The New Motivation Hierarchy: Survival, Fulfilment, Contribution

People might look quite the same - they go to work, raise families and so on. But each of them lives

a different reality and acts in three different domains: Survival, Fulfillment and Contribution.

Survival is the most common state and we probably all start there as babies. The aim of the survival mode is just that, to survive. What rules the day is fear: fear of losing our job or family, fear of not having enough, fear of being caught out, fear of not being up to some norm, fear of not making it, fear of failure. There is a whole host of those and their various derivatives. This state of mind is consuming the individual. We are full of concerns, worries, insecurities and so on. The environment reacts to this and manipulates the individual according to their fears. People in a survival mode are easy to control. They are easy to manipulate. Actually many systems are aimed at causing fear and insecurity in people in survival mode. Those could be established religions, governments, enterprises or those who control economies. Survival is the lowest human state. It is actually self-inflicted slavery and whilst you might think that this is typical to lower socio-economical levels, this is not true. You can also find it often amongst senior managers and even CEO’s. It has usually nothing to do usually with reality. It is much more to do with the type of stories you tell yourself that create your state of mind and behaviour.

Survival state of mind is usually a default and not a preference. It is almost like a parasite that unbeknown to you is allowed to suck out your energies and will. It depletes a person, belittles them and makes them much smaller than they could have been. It allows no initiative or will to do and create. To move on from survival mode is certainly a matter of conscious mindful choice and is not easy. It requires building up an escape velocity to release oneself from a powerful gravitation field.

Fulfilment is more of a chosen state of mind and mode of life. It is a higher state of existence. The choice here is to actualize one’s talents, capabilities and hidden potential. Usually the sense of potential is internal. As if there is an inner awareness concerning one’s abilities and greatness that gets revealed over time. It does require deep self-awareness and listening. It also requires awareness to the opportunities that are around. Fulfilment state of mind of has an element of self-centeredness in it. It focuses mainly on the individual and their need to unlock their potential. In some extreme situations this drive might be on the expense of anything else. Yet there is something natural in the drive to be as best as one can be. In a deeper level it is the drive to become what one was meant to be by design and inclination. So the actualisation equals the original intention. Fulfilment creates energy, builds up motivation and drive. It can drive people very far in their journey as a huge engine. For Abraham Maslow, the American psychologist self-fulfilment was at the top of the hierarchy of needs and motivations. We would like to suggest here that there is another level of drive. Metaphorically it starts at the tip of an upside-down pyramid that starts at the top of Maslow’s pyramid. It is to do with contribution. Contribution originates from a deep sense of belonging and being part of a greater whole and not from the sense of separation and individualism. When in this state of mind one heeds the needs that surround them. They are in a state of giving. The giving might be at multiple levels from physical to emotional, mental or spiritual. The focus is out there in the needs of others or of a greater whole. The perception is of being an instrument to assist and help whomever needs that help. Motherhood is a perfect natural example of a contribution state of mind. Motherhood as a state of mind is given in the design and genetic inclination.

To contribute beyond the calling of nature is a choice. In this choice the person connects to a greater whole and derives the meaning of their life and their doing from that. At this level of living and operating the level of energy and drive is the highest. It is as if one connects to sources of energy and intelligence that are beyond their own. In his last book «The Self actualizers» Maslow interviewed hundreds of people who felt self-fulfilled in the end of their lives. He actually discovered that most of those people felt fulfilled because they contributed and were part of something beyond themselves.


So here is the full hierarchy of drive, motivation and meaning: from survival to fulfilment and from fulfilment to contribution.


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