Recently I was talking with one of our members about the breakout success of her second business, a non-profit that she fell into and that has really taken off. We’re all delighted by her success, the attention the non-profit is bringing to her first business, and the happiness it’s bringing to her as she fulfills an important mission within the community.
As she was talking, I also picked up on the fact that trying to keep up with the media demands while adding structure to the nonprofit and still running her main business is exhausting and a lot of work. But it didn’t seem to really bother her. And that piqued my interest.
And so I started thinking about why she wasn’t struggling – and I was reminded of an important business lesson.
I knew that sheer energy or brute strength will only get you so far. There was something going on within this member that was motivating her to do so much.
This line of thought led me to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory – remember that? This theory proposes that motivation is a function of five basic needs and that unmet needs motivate people to satisfy those needs.
Clearly this Her Corner member had tapped into an unmet need – the need to do more and to give back to her community in a new way – and that action was so motivating that she was willing and able to move mountains to make this non-profit take off.
But there was something about Maslow’s theory that was bothering me. One of the most important managerial implications is that a satisfied need may lose its motivational potential. Not always, but it can.
Time and time again, I have seen our members charge forward to meet the initial need of achievement, whether it’s to learn something new or build something that’s never before been built. Eventually, the need is met. And once the need is met, members lose motivation. They no longer jump out of bed – they’ve already been there, done that.
It’s normal for motivation to decrease, especially as needs that helped to fuel that motivation are met. Along the way, we must continue to think about the top of Maslow’s hierarchy pyramid – the one in which he talks about self-actualization (the desire for self-fulfillment – to become the best one is capable of becoming.) And as such we must continue to challenge ourselves and define new needs we want to fulfill in order to remain motivated to perform and grow these businesses!
If you’re dragging your feet lately, you need a little Maslow in your life. Go out there and find it!