(THIS IS THE FOURTH IN A SERIES OF IN-DEPTH DISCUSSIONS ABOUT COLLECTIVE SELF-ACTUALIZATION, AND THE THEORIES AND THOUGHTS BEHIND IT. IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY, WE RECOMMEND READING THE FIRST, SECOND, AND THIRD PARTS BEFORE CONTINUING.)
So, here is the real question – How can I, through Self-Actualization, help anybody other than myself? How does fulfilling my personal Hierarchy of Needs translate from my own life into the lives of others?
This is the whole idea behind the Global CSA Initiative. In his original development of the Theory of Human Motivation, understanding what drives the Individual Self to achieve its full potential was the primary subject in Dr. Maslow‘s work. But, in his later years, he criticized himself for limiting his concept to individualized needs. He realized that there were still greater heights to be reached through continuing to work toward the common good of humanity – in fact, he pointed out that, in many cases, Self-Actualization was the ability to do just that.
From the mind that took Maslow’s original concept and further developed it into what we call Collective Self-Actualization:
“Learning about Self-Actualization in college as Maslow described it was what got me thinking – What happens after Self-Actualization? Obviously maintaining the state of Self-Actualization would be an intrinsic component of it, but is there anything beyond it? That’s when it dawned on me – take the two angular sides of the Hierarchy’s triangle and extend those lines into arrows going outwards towards infinity. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as it is currently formulated, only deals with the individual, and ultimately their own self-actualization. But, as my Dad taught me, “There is the whole concept of other people”. So it only made sense that the inverse pyramid would represent other people. The more people you help, or positively impact, or help to reach high levels of their own Hierarchy of Needs, the bigger your inverse pyramid proportionately grows.
So that is the answer to the question of “what happens after Self-Actualization?” – survive in and maintain that state as long as possible in order to thrive with, and through, the company of others. If everyone does this, the world would be unfathomably wonderful – and, yes, it sounds darn near impossible now, but … it’s possible, and it starts with you. But it doesn’t end there.
This concept of a pyramid, an Hierarchy with different levels culminating at the pinnacle of Self-Actualization, applies to not only individual humans, but groups of humans. Take for instance a stereotypical ‘nuclear family’, with a mom, dad, and 2 kids. They have their Collective Hierarchy, consisting of lower level needs and upper levels wants, and as long as they obtain the needs and wants they collectively choose to obtain in accordance with the subjective criteria, then they are by definition COLLECTIVELY SELF-ACTUALIZED. And so, this concept of Collective Self-Actualization can now be used as a motivational tool and guiding principle for groups of people that has only, until now, been applied to the individual.”
The idea of Self-Actualization, while originally thought of as an individual’s motivational structure, can actually be applied to groups of people as well. When a group of like-minded people come together to work towards a common goal, they apply a certain form of the Hierarchy of Needs to their objective. In keeping in line with our working definition of Self-Actualization, this group becomes an entity that decides on a certain pinnacle of achievement, and then figures out a plan of action – by determining the needs of the group that must be fulfilled in order to reach their goal. They realize the full potential of the group when the needs and desires of the group that they choose to fulfill have been met, and they have laid a path to success in their objective.
This is the concept of Collective Self-Actualization. Sort of like gears in machinery, or bees in a hive, a group of like-minded individuals, as a whole, is a Collective – a cooperative unit or entity with a common goal. And the group reaches Actualization when their goal has been realized. And this is Collective Self-Actualization.
Ok, so now what? We are already a member of activist organizations, running for local city council, working with others in the neighborhood to build a community garden center. That’s Collective Self-Actualization, right?
Yes, it is. And all of those things are important parts of CSA. However, we believe that we can take this even further – a global sociological shift that will transition us from the greed and consumerism that has seen more dire consequences every passing day. We believe that this concept can become a guiding principle for progress toward a global egalitarian society, where no person is forced to live in poverty and squalor so that another may live in hedonistic excess.
As a whole, we’ve been focusing strictly on the Individual Self for far too long, and it hasn’t turned out very well. It’s time for a new direction. We are beginning to see the powerful and positive effects of focusing on the “Us” instead of the “Me”. We are seeing what happens when we stop focusing strictly on the Individual Self, and start working within the Collective Self. But time is short. We need to take it even further. We need to look at the possibility of a Global Collective Self-Actualization. We’re almost there…