If you have been a client of mine, or in any of my training sessions, you know that I just about always have Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in my back pocket to pull out at any time to analyze human motivation and behaviors. This period, as we watch and feel the direct and indirect effects of Covid-19, I can’t help but see how relevant understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is to this time. Understanding it cannot only provide you with insights about your behaviors, but also about the behaviors of your colleagues, your children, community members etc.
Abraham Maslow created a pyramid to highlight that our needs fall on different levels. The first three levels of the pyramid are our basic needs, which relate to our physiological and safety needs. Once these needs are met, an individual begins to move up to the higher needs which relate to love, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Maslow’s theory clearly outlines that satisfying the lower levels of needs are essential for you to be able to move up to the higher levels of needs and must remain present.
Here is a quick breakdown of each level.
Now that you have a basic understanding of this pyramid, take a mental walk with me. Let’s imagine an individual functioning at ‘Love and Belonging.’ They have a relatively good job and can take care of the basic physiological and safety needs of their family. They start to hear about this Covid-19 illness, and they proceed with caution; based on what is being seen on the news abroad, this is a serious thing. Then they hear that there is a case in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Then their hours are cut at work. Then within a week, they are no longer working. With a blink of an eye, their pyramid level has been shaken. They went from wanting to set up a play area for their child at home, or to have church friends over for lunch, to being unable to interact with others, worrying about their health, and their ability to provide basic food and water for their family. Their motivations at the ‘Love and Belonging’ level are light years away from where they are now at the physiological level. They are now willing to do whatever they need to do to ensure that their family is taken care of…even if that means disobeying curfew to go to the neighbors for some rice, or to the lady down the road that will provide drinking water on credit.
Take another mental walk with me. For this mental walk, let’s discuss a young professional: one that has recently returned home to a high-power job and is at the top of their game. They have recently bought a fabulous new condo. They eat, breathe and sleep self development and building their personal brand, as they know where they want to be, how they want to get there, and by when. Like the character in our first mental walk, as Covid-19 makes its way to Turks and Caicos Islands, they begin to get concerned. Now working from home, they are working in isolation. No more water cooler chats, no more impromptu lunch dates. The beautiful condo that they loved to entertain at, no longer has anyone to entertain. They find that when they sit down to work, they cannot focus. They are anxious, irritated and begin to worry every time they feel a tingle in their throat. They scroll social media wondering why they feel so exhausted, but their peers are managing to learn new languages and launch new business ideas on IGTV or through their Facebook lives. This individual is no longer concerned with the behaviors at the ‘self-actualization’ and ‘esteem’ levels, but is now focused on ‘love and belonging.’
For the last few weeks, I have had a lot of questions related to innovative ways to educate during this time, to provide services and basically to take advantage of the captive market as so many individuals are looking for solutions at this time. Yolande Robinson, the entrepreneur whose children are usually in school, who makes a steady salary and who is normally blessed to have awesome house help…would have been all over that! The current Yolande Robinson is taking it one day at a time. Although I don’t think my entrepreneur brain ever takes a break, my motivations shift to activities that will provide physical and psychological safety for my family and for those in my tribe. This Yolande Robinson has no problem abandoning the schedule for a family game of Uno with a side of popcorn, because all the business ideas brewing will not be able to take flight if the bottom three levels of my pyramid are not stable.
My advice during this time is to take things one day at a time. Focus your energy on the now. Be present with those in your household and do what you can.
Be compassionate with others, as many pyramid levels have been hit with the force that Hurricane Irma was felt here in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but moving as slowly as Hurricane Dorian moved over The Bahamas. Let judgement go out the window. Rather than judge behaviors, see how you can help…from a distance of course. How can you add value during this time?
For those of you that have managed to stay on the same level of the pyramid, but just feel a little ‘off,’ know that some days you will be more productive than others. Some days you will be on top of your child’s home learning assignments and super focused in your work Zoom calls, and some days the family may all abandon ‘the right thing to do’ and overdose on technology time.
Take deep breaths, reset daily, work from where you are, and give yourself grace.
Be safe my friends.
Shifting Perspectives is a weekly conversation with Yolande. Yolande, a Canadian of Caribbean descent, now calls the Turks and Caicos Islands home and in this podcast challenges Caribbean woman worldwide to fuel themselves with diversity in the way they think, the way they work, the way they parent and the way they live.