Know yourself to best serve others

Updated: Jun 13, 2021


American psychologist Abraham Maslow is as popular as he is misunderstood. Our individualistic society missed the point of "self-actualization" stated so clearly here by Maslow himself in this 1968 video recording. We know and develop ourselves, our potential, we "actualize" so that we can find our "priestly vocation", our calling, the way in which we uniquely and best serve others and the world.


A man ahead of his time, the characteristics of self-actualized individuals he describes are very much in alignment with ideas today of the new leadership paradigm -- namely, the ethical, emotionally aware, agile, humble, compassionate and resilient servant leaders. These characteristics are summarized here:

  • Truth: honest, reality, beauty, pure, clean and unadulterated completeness

  • Goodness: rightness, desirability, uprightness, benevolence, honesty

  • Beauty: rightness, form, aliveness, simplicity, richness, wholeness, perfection, completion,

  • Wholeness: unity, integration, tendency to oneness, interconnectedness, simplicity, organization, structure, order, not dissociated, synergy

  • Dichotomy: transcendence, acceptance, resolution, integration, polarities, opposites, contradictions

  • Aliveness: process, not-deadness, spontaneity, self-regulation, full-functioning

  • Uniqueness: idiosyncrasy, individuality, non comparability, novelty

  • Perfection: nothing superfluous, nothing lacking, everything in its right place, just-rightness, suitability, justice

  • Necessity inevitability: it must be just that way, not changed in any slightest way

  • Completion: ending, justice, fulfillment

  • Justice: fairness, suitability, disinterestedness, non partiality,

  • Order: lawfulness, rightness, perfectly arranged

  • Simplicity: abstract, essential skeletal, bluntness

  • Richness: differentiation, complexity, intricacy, totality

  • Effortlessness: ease; lack of strain, striving, or difficulty

  • Playfulness: fun, joy, amusement

  • Self-sufficiency: autonomy, independence, self-determining

Maslow's self-actualization model was expanded in the 1990s by values-based leadership visionary Richard Barrett and became known as the Barrett model. It has been tested over more than two decades of real-world experience. The model identifies the seven most important areas of human motivation. These range from basic survival at one end of the scale, to societal contribution and future generations at the other end of the scale. The model provides a proven map for understanding the evolution of personal values, organizational values, leadership values, and community and societal values.

Do you wish to know the ways in which you have self-actualized as a leader? Take the complimentary personal assessment here.


Do you wish to know the extent to which your organization is living its purpose? In what area is your organization struggling culturally? To what extent is your organizational culture in alignment with your espoused values? What are the areas of cultural entropy where your organization is challenged? Where can you focus to move towards your desired culture? Order your organizational culture assessment here. The written report will act as your roadmap towards an ethical interdependent workplace culture of trust where people and your organization flourish.


Book your coaching session with certified Barrett Values Centre consultant and culture transformation expert Diane Kalen-Sukra here.


For more on the historical origins of the phrase "know thyself", as well as a free personality test, see here.

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