There are as many critics about the irrelevance as well as non applicability of Maslow‘s Need Hierarchy to one’s life  as there are devotees. One can argue for and against Maslow, but cannot ignore him.

I use Maslow’s principles extensively in my coaching. In his early versions, i understand that Maslow maintained that one has to fulfill each of the needs in the pyramid to be able to move to the next. However, I did read somewhere that in later years Maslow accepted that unfulfilled needs from each sector of the pyramid do carry on to the next.

In my experience, I find this to be true. People in the fourth level of looking for self-esteem still suffer from concerns about basic survival!

Maslow also classifies the first four needs as deficiency needs. You may also term them as dissatisfier needs in line with modern human resources terminology. Lack of fulfillment of these four needs of Survival, Safety, Relationship and Self Esteem leads to discontent, but fulfillment never seems to be complete.

Needs seem to morph into wants that never can be fulfilled!

If we look at our own lives and those of many we know, we are already knocking at level 4 at birth. We are replete with survival , safety and relationship satisfiers in most cases, except the disadvantaged. We take these for granted, though from time to time we lapse into insecurity. Self Esteem, however, eludes many. It does not seem to be a product of external material fulfillment.

Those who realize this early enough start questioning their way of life and start knocking at the fifth level of Self Actualization.

What about YOU?

Where are you in this pyramid?  Where do you wish to go?

These questions lead us into self enquiry. The greatest of the masters who relentlessly pushed one into the Self Enquiry path or the Who Am I path was Ramana Maharishi.

I do find similarities in the Maslow pyramid and Ramana’s path. As well with the Vedic concept of Chakras, the virtual energy centers in our mind body system, which in my studies affect our emotions, behavior and ultimately our levels of happiness.

How can we apply these concepts in Coaching?

If your coaching mode is transactional focused on instant solutions, do move on.

However, if your path is transformational coaching that aims to address root causes of behavior and help the client find the right solutions based on their inherent value systems, let’s discuss.

I have used these principles with high flier executive from age 30 on to help plan their life and career holistically, and the feedback has always been that it transformed their lives.

Do join me at the Linked In group of ICF GEC CP: ICF Global Executive Coaching Community of Practice and the monthly on-line discussion on 1 August 12 Noon ET.

It’s free and who knows, may be a learning. We meet monthly as ICF members (also non members with an interest to become members) every first Wednesday Noon ET. ICF members get their CCEU credit.

For any clarifications,  do mail me at