Human Motivation

Abraham Maslow came up with a really good model for understanding the behavior and motivation of human beings. His hierarchy of needs FIXME answers some really important questions about why humans behave the way they do.

There are a few different ways to construct such a model; Maslow divided his hierarchy into 5 levels. I've created one that is also valid, and laid out differently. Why? The way I've created this one fits better with what I'm trying to accomplish. There's nothing wrong with either model. They both work. They're just suited more towards different tasks.

My explanation of human motivation is that there are four basic motivating factors:

  • Survival and propagation
  • Being important
  • Expressing love
  • Contributing to something larger than ones self.

Each factor depends on the factor above it; someone who feels unimportant is not motivated to make the world a better place, and someone who doesn't know if he's going to survive probably won't be too concerned about being vulnerable and intimately connected with the people around him.

My opinion is that most people in America are stuck in the second stage: their need to feel important has not been sufficiently validated, by themselves or others, for them to start thinking seriously about loving other human beings in a serious way. (I also maintain that the majority of what we refer to as love in this society is not. Chemistry is not love; sex is not love; need is not love; romance is not love; a good story, touching though it may be, is not love; emotion is not love. What love actually is, is a later conversation.)

Survival and Propagation

The simple stuff. Good food, clean water, protection from the environment such as clothes, shelter, air conditioning, sanitation, sufficient sleep, etc.

Propagation I put here, but I'm not sure it doesn't belong under importance. Note that I don't call it reproduction. The vast, vast numbers of gametes and orgasms that are had by humans have nothing whatever to do with reproduction, and that is not a problem. The drive to fuck in humans is almost completely omnipresent. My admittedly limited experience is that denying someone the right to express themselves sexually has some really serious outcomes that are hard to predict but almost always more problematic than the sex would've been in the first place.

So yeah. That's survival and propagation. Simple stuff.


“The feeling of benig valuable–“I am a valuable person”–is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline.” –M. Scott Peck, “The Road Less Traveled”, p. 24

Importance is more than just “being loved” or being someone who matters. Being unimportant is, I believe, at the core of all human terror. Think about what it would really mean to be unimportant.

If I'm not important, I don't deserve what I have, or anything really. No one should love me, or care about me, or pay me money to work for them, or respect my personal boundaries. If I'm not important, then my survival is completely tenuous, and every moment I have comes to me by sheer luck. People who are unimportant don't get what they need or want. Why should they? They don't matter. It doesn't matter. They don't matter.

The anxiety about job interviews is all about importance, though we rarely think of it that way. The point of the hiring process is for the company to decide if you're important enough to them to pay you money so you'll stick around and do what they need done. If you're threatened with being fired, it's a powerful statement that you are no longer important to the company.

Terrifying, right? You bet it is.

Basically, someone who does not have the experience of being important lives their life in fear:

  • Fear of not having enough;
  • Fear of not being good enough;
  • Fear that something terrible is going to happen.

You may hear me say from time to time that someone is “trapped in the Matrix.” This is what I mean. It's pervasive. How many people only go to work every day because they're afraid of what would happen if they didn't? Be honest. How many go to church because they feel guilty all the time? How many put up with invasions of their privacy because they're afraid of what might happen? This is what it's like to be trapped in the Matrix; you do what you do because you're afraid of what would happen if you didn't.

It's exhausting to live this way. Depressing. People here either drive themselves to become someone who's as close to perfect as possible, or give up completely on being the person they wish they'd been. Either way, people sentence themselves to a certain kind of future, either striving for the rest of their lives to keep up with the level of temporary, insecure approval they've gotten from others, or wondering what happened to their potential, their dreams, aspirations… and the idea that anything could ever get better–the idea that life could be deeply satisfying–vanishes from view.

On the other hand…

What if you are important? What would that mean? If I'm important, then I deserve a good, satisfying job with enough pay to get me by in life. If I'm important, then I don't have to worry about whether people love me or not. They just do. I don't have to worry about bad things happening, because I'm important, and I will, therefore, be OK no matter what happens. My boundaries are sacred, and you don't get to violate them. You don't get to abuse me. Etc.

(FIXME This is probably where I should do the jag on Machiavelli. Later.)

And then something magical happens. Once a person has the experience of being important–once who they are for themselves is someone who matters–suddenly they're both able and eager to express love. Not chemistry, stories, sex, romance, or emotions: actual love.

Expressing Love

Love isn't a thing. I don't think you can actually say “Love is [fill in the blank]” because there's nothing to put in the blank that doesn't constrain, in a particular way, the possibility that is love. Imagine instead that it's a great space, like a clearing in a forest, whose boundary is this simple statement: You're important. You matter.

Inside of that space, almost anything can arise. Sex and intimacy, vulnerability, the most touching and moving of stories, chemistry, powerful emotions, and in so many variations, the space bounded by those simple words must be very large indeed.

Once you have the experience of being important, you start to play inside that space, and you start bringing others into that space, too. You give them the experience of being important. It becomes the thing you want to do in your spare time.

It's possible (though it seems pretty unlikely to me) that you could get stuck in this stage, and have the experience of being frustrated in your ability to express love and have it be received by another person. This is probably something I should study because it seems like something that would invalidate your importance… this needs more thought, at least.

Contribution to Something Larger

For most people, church is a place to go to assuage guilt, or to pass judgment on other people while you're assuaging your guilt. For many, it's a place to feel a strong emotional (though they'd rather call it “spiritual”) experience. For a few people, church is a place to connect with something larger than themselves; to give back to the community. That last group, in my experience, is very small, which says something about the nature of religion. (That's another conversation. We'll get into it quite a bit later.)

Up to this point, life has been about me making my life work for myself. After spending enough time playing inside the space of love, there's a very low-level, subtle, easy-to-miss realization: that the only thing left in my life that doesn't work for me, is that the lives of those around me don't work for them. (For the record, I'm there intellectually, but it hasn't become the core of who I am yet.)

Thus, the work of the Good Ideas Bureau is to bring people to this point as quickly and effectively as possible, and give them the tools–again, quickly and effectively–to do the same for others.

Selfishness Is Useful

Stuff Still Needing to be Written

  • Selfishness is useful and productive. If you have what you need and want, you'll think win-win instead of being competitive.
    • Therefore, here is our declaration in the matter: You are someone of consequence; what you need is important; what you want matters; your life being satisfactory is a matter of urgency.
  • Your Identity
    • You are a computer that can program itself.
    • The New Relationship to Choice
  • Internal Consistency
    • Nothing Works Without Integrity.
  • External Consistency
    • Integrity can only be measured externally.
    • My job, my stewardship, is to have others' lives work.
  • Reality
    • Know what you know, Own what you don't, Question everything, Believe nothing.
    • You Are Not Real
  • The World That Works
    • It doesn't work for me that the world doesn't work for you. It doesn't work for you that the world doesn't work for others.

Paradigms for the Emergent Organization

Transformation is free, as in beer, as in speech.

We don't charge money for it, and we don't hold any intellectual property to ourselves.

It's easy.

You don't have to go through shit-tons of training or give up the rest of your life to be someone who causes transformation in the world.

You don't have to do it to yourself.

It's not necessary to get someone to engage in transformation. You can give them being engaged.

Offer more. Demand less.

We don't ask people for things. We only offer people things.

Radical Ideas

Stewardship replaces Ownership

new_paradigm.txt · Last modified: 2013/10/14 06:11 by naptastic
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