Monday, September 27, 2004

Self-Actualization and Making a Difference

Curt left a fascinating response to my little post about Maslow's Wants, and I don't want it hidden away:
"I sometimes wonder if my work - helping people identify their passions and create careers that ignite them - is frivolous self-indulgence. It's 100% about self-actualization. Then I remind myself that part of what I'm doing is throwing pebbles in the pond. And the ripples from the self-actualization of the people I touch - what they actually go out and do, and the people they impact as a result - will inevitably make a difference. And some of those ripples will make a difference in areas that are much lower on Maslow's Hierarchy.

So to the extent that self-actualization is about making a difference (I tend to believe that it is, at least in part), what might seem like self-indulgence is actually planting the seeds for positive change."
This goes to the heart of one of my own reservations about the lifestylism concept -- the implied selfishness and even narcissism of focusing so much attention on what I (or you) want. But I also keep coming back to the concept of values, and I believe that what people really value also has the potential for positive impact in the world. The cynic in me sees everyone stepping on everyone else to get ahead...the optimist sees that when people are actually living in synch with their core values, they do good things and care about the needs of others.

As an extension of these ideas, Curt's musing about work that makes a difference has some great discussion about our purpose in life and how it relates to our work.


Rob said...

Is it selfish to meet our own needs? Is it selfish to seek autonomy?

I don't think so - I am sure that the most motivating aspect of life is to be recognized for doing important work by peers that we respect.

Jeremy said...

I guess this stuff should be considered more self-directed and self-sufficient rather than selfish.

I'm trying to define lifestylism as including people's social environment and social values, but perhaps the word has too much baggage in being associated with the things I do purely for myself (my stuff, my house, my creativity, etc)?

I think this is why I keep coming back to the concept of values and how they're manifested in a lifestyle.