Through the process of personal growth and development, you learn new skills and acquire new abilities. Personal development is a lifelong process of learning and growth that leads you closer to realizing your full potential. But what exactly is human potential? And how does it connect to personal development? Let’s look more carefully at these two concepts to see how they influence each other.
Understanding Human Potential
When it comes to basic human needs, there are many. In the mid-1900s, a psychologist and researcher named Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy that helps us understand human needs and how they are connected to each other. Anything that is hierarchical requires that the conditions of the first level must be met to address the second level, which must be met to focus on the next level, and so on. To visualize Maslow’s hierarchy, image a triangle that has a broad base but that tapers up into a point. If you divided that triangle into five layers, each would represent a different type of need we have as humans.
All the levels below the very topmost layer would be deficiency needs, which means that you can’t focus on anything else until these needs are met. At the base, you have needs related to your survival, like food, water, shelter, and clothing. When these needs are not met, you can’t focus on the next layer, which includes your safety, security, health, and financial needs. Those who are worried about food, their health, and having enough money will not be able to address any of the requirements above them on the triangle.
The next two layers of Maslow’s hierarchy represent more psychological needs. The first is your need for belonging and love, including connecting with other people in meaningful ways. And the final layer of deficiency needs includes those related to your sense of self, including your desire to feel accomplished, successful, and respected.
Once all these needs (of which there are many) are met, you can finally focus on realizing your full potential, which is what Maslow calls self-actualization. Your self-actualization is an abundance need, which means the more it is met, the more you will be motivated to continue to accomplish it. This is your true and ultimate potential, the culmination of meeting all your other needs and finally being able to attain your goals and be the best and happiest version of yourself.
The desire to achieve self-actualization is inside each of us. It is what drives you to improve your life, to strengthen your skills and knowledge, and to continue learning throughout your life. And because it is at the top of the triangle, to achieve it, you must focus on addressing all the deficiency needs below, which can improve your life and help you become balanced, healthy, and strong.
Self-Development’s Role in Human Potential
When you listen to your needs and pay attention to your drive for self-actualization, you can use that motivation to help you realize your full potential and accomplish whatever dreams you set for yourself in life. Self-development is a process that you engage in to help you grow, learn, and improve in small but significant ways that, over time, address your deficiency needs and enable you to focus on whatever it is in your life that helps you become the best version of yourself you possibly can. Without personal development, you cannot realize your human potential because it is the process by which your needs are met, and your goals are achieved.
Once you embrace personal development in your life, you can learn more about your true human potential, improve your life in ways that are necessary and important, and start living your best possible life.