Dr. Abraham Maslow

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

In 1943, Dr Abraham Maslow wrote a paper titled a Theory of Human Motivation. Most people know it as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. Today we are going to talk about Dr. Maslow’s theories and use them to help you build a better restaurant.

Hey It’s Peter Harman The Food Guru here with your weekly Pep Talk…My goal is the teach restaurant owners, managers and chefs, like you to focus on Eight Basic Fundamentals that lead to a better life and financial freedom.


Dr. Maslow divided human needs into a hierarchy with 5 different levels

The levels are:

1. Physical Needs - Air, Food and Water

2. Safety & Security Needs– We need a safe place to sleep and roof over our heads.

3. Relationship Needs – We need people to share our lives with

4. Esteem Needs – We need to be appreciated and feel important.

5. Self-Actualization – This is Living the Dream.

Dr. Maslow believed - we become what we think about, and we think about what we need and these needs are what motivate us to take action and move forward or not.

Imagine a pyramid with five different levels with Self Actualization on the top level.

Level #1: Physical Needs We need air, food, water, sleep and sex, without them we will not survive. We also need the things that make up our basic health, or homeostasis, such as oxygen and good blood flow, the proper balance of salt, sugar, protein, vitamins and minerals. If our body isn’t working correctly, nothing else matters.

Level #2: Safety & Security: We need a safe place to live and raise our family. We crave financial security. We need the security of a decent job. We need insurance to protect us if we have a serious illness or need long term care and rehabilitation. We need an army and police force to protect us from the bad guys.

When we satisfy the need to feel safe and secure we will naturally raise our sights to a higher level of being.

Level #3 = Relationships: This is when we want or need other people, companionship, love and a sense of belonging, we need someone to share our life’s journey with. We also need other people to help us achieve and maintain the first two levels of needs.

If we think back in time, men were the hunters and women were the gatherers. When a hunter brought home some meat, he needed someone to share it with, he couldn’t eat it alone, he also needed other food items, like bread, fruits and vegetables. He needed someone to stay home and tend the hearth in his absence.

We learned to live in groups and tribes for protection against other groups. Eventually we learned division of labor and started to trade with the other people in our group. One person became skilled at making fur coats, while another learned to make shoes, this is how early trading began. It started as a local thing, among our tribe and eventually it spread around the world. All of this was built on relationships.

Level #4 = The Esteem Needs: There are several different layers and types of esteem needs.

First is Self Esteem: This happens when we are happy with ourselves and what we have accomplished. I want you to stop and Think about that point, we must be happy with what we have accomplished, if we are not happy with ourselves, nothing else matters. Self Esteem and happiness is an inside job, that is given to you - by you.

Maslow said; “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” - Wow, that is very powerful and smart.

The next level of Esteem Needs is called RESPECT: At this level - We begin crave respect. We need someone else to recognize us as being important. Different people have different levels of need, in regard to respect. Some people just want respect from their small circle of friends and family, others crave respect from the masses, they need millions of adoring fans.

Above that we have the Cognitive Functions: We seek Intellectual stimulation - knowledge and Exploration. We need to learn and grow as people. We need to travel and experience the amazing things that life has to offer. This is why Columbus traveled to America, why we went to the moon, and why we need to go to Mars.

Above that is what is called the Aesthetic Level: This level includes concepts such as Harmony, Order & Beauty. This is the level that allows up to create a system to make our restaurant function smoothly. This is where the homemaker thinks, I don’t just want a couch and some chairs to sit on, I want beautiful comfortable couches that make a statement about who I am as a person and a decorator.

Know this - It is possible to reach the aesthetic level in one part of your life say with artistic food, and still dress in a sloppy manner, or have a disorganized office, because of where we place our personal values and needs.

Level #5 – Self Actualization. The Top of the Pyramid.

Self-Actualization, which in modern vernacular means we are living the dream – Our Dream. We have reached a state of harmony and understanding, because we are engaged in activities that fulfill us and allow us to reach our full potential. Self-Actualized people have made it to the top, they have achieved their goals and are living the dream.

Dr. Maslow said “What a man can be, he must be, this need is what we call self-actualization.”

Self-actualized people tend to focus on problems outside themselves. Maslow noticed that self-actualized individuals had a better insight of reality, they accepted themselves, other people and the world, as they are. He also observed that Self-Actualized people were very independent and private when it came to their environment and culture.

  • They have a clear sense of what is true and what is false

  • They are spontaneous and creative

  • They are not bound - by social conventions.

Self-Actualized people often live in a different reality – Think - Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs. These guys were so far ahead of us – we couldn’t even see their dust.

Self-Actualization allows us to ask this question. If you have good health and more money than you could ever spend, what would you do all day long? Another way to say that is – if I had a bottomless credit card that would never run out, what would I do all day long? The answer to these question should be very revealing to you. It is the answer to your life, and who you are. I encourage you to spend some time pondering it.

Maslow said, “Man is a perpetually wanting animal… human needs arrange themselves in hierarchies of pre-potency, which means the appearance of one need usually rests on the prior satisfaction of another pre-potent need. The premise is that we must satisfy our needs at the most basic level before moving on to a higher level.”

Let’s Zoom Out and look at these basic human needs from a distance. For example, a starving man will not be concerned if his food is locally sourced and organic, his only concern is getting food (any food) and filling his belly. Then, when he is no longer hungry, and he has enough food and no longer has the fear of starvation, he will naturally raise his sights, to a higher need like safety and security and having a roof over his head.

The level that we are at – controls what we think about.

Humans must achieve success at the lower levels, before moving up to the higher levels. For example. if you cannot breath, would you really care who is playing in the Super Bowl? Of course not - you would only care about getting air into your lungs.

Another way to look at this is, if you ask a starving man what his goals are, he would most definitely say FOOD! Someone who struggles to get food, for example would consider utopia as a place where there is always plenty of food. A chronically hungry person will believe that success in life is defined by having enough to eat and they may see higher needs - such as art, philosophy or entertainment as useless fripperies, because they fail to fill the stomach. The starving person can only think of satisfying that one basic need - Food.

If you were to ask an unemployed father of three, what his goals are, he would most likely say - to find a job and support my family.

If you asked a recently divorced person what their goal is, I bet they would say to have a loving and trusting relationship.

If you ask a restaurant owner who is struggling to pay his bills, what his goal is - it would likely say to increase sales and have more - MONEY!

Here’s is a slightly different way to look at this.

Dr. Sigmund Freud said that “man has three main drivers SEX – MONEY – POWER. When men are young, the thing they want and need most is sex. Everything revolves around sex. When they have a satisfactory sexual life style, they raise their sights to money and the things that it can buy, some men even place their need for sex on the back burner while they chase - money. Then, when they have enough money - men seek power and influence."

I am going to add a fourth category to this called Altruism. This is when we have the need to share our wealth or knowledge with others. This happened to Andrew Carnegie - He became enormously wealthy and then spent his later years giving away his money and doing good deeds for the world. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are modern examples of really rich people who have become altruistic.

When the needs of one level are met, we naturally raise our sights to the next level.

  • When we feel safe and secure we set our sights on having relationships with friends and family.

  • When our relationship needs are met we may raise our sights to being a respected member of his community.

  • When we achieve these things, he will want a total upgrade, better food, a better place to live, a better car, better friends, and better clothes.

  • When all these needs are met, we strive to be all that we can be. Dr. Maslow called this Self Actualization.

The point is that we crave what we need to survive, then once we have the basic needs of one level we begin to desire and strive for a higher need. The process starts at the bottom of the pyramid and works its way up to the top.

Your place in the pyramid can change instantly, due to an accident, serious illness, loss of job or down turn in business. Any tragic occurrence can upset our place in the pyramid, and suddenly change our priorities. During the Great Depression on the 1930’s regular people were lucky to have a job, any job. Today Americans are so rich that we get to choose our career field and where we want to work. If we are not satisfied we have the freedom to move on to something else, or start our own business.

Most Americans take self-actualization for granted, while many people around the world are still struggling to find enough food for their family. If you have seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire you get the idea. For thousands of years mankind has dreamed of a better life. Today we have the power to be and do anything we wish to do. We live in America, the greatest country in the history of mankind.

Dr. Maslow was a pretty smart guy – here are a few other things he had to say …

"If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life. In any given moment we have two options:

  1. Step forward into GROWTH or

  2. Step backward into – THE SAFETY of our comfort zone."

Maslow didn’t mean the second level of the pyramid of safety and security, but the next level down from where you are at today, where we are comfortable and know how to operate. This is what it means when we say – Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. Every day, life gives us a choice – Step forward into growth or backward into our comfort zone.

  • We must conquer the fear of failure and have the guts to move forward into the new life. Your NEW Life.

  • Growth must be chosen again and again and - fear must be overcome again and again. This means, every time we want to move forward, we must overcome the fear associated with the new growth.

  • It is as necessary for a man to live in beauty rather than ugliness - as it is for him to have food for an aching belly - or rest for a weary body.

  • What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

  • It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.

  • The fact is that people are good, - when we give people affection and security - they will give others affection and they will also be secure in their feelings and their behavior. Wow! I Love That one…

  • We must learn to TRUST other people. We must learn to empower our people to achieve all that they can be. We must realize that other people are on a journey very similar to the journey that we are on.

  • What a man can be, he must be, this need is what we call self-actualization.

  • The only happy people I know are the ones who are working well at something they consider important.

  • A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.

I would add that a chef must cook, a bartender must make drinks and a people builder must build people.

My Name is Peter Harman, I am the Food Guru. My goal is to start a restaurant revolution where every restaurant owner, manager and chef who joins us has the information they need to earn a 10% Profit, create financial freedom and live the life of their dreams.

If you really want to get to the next level - here’s my simple Plan.

1- SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST This weekly pep talk will keep you on your toes and give you inspiration to keep moving forward.

2- BUY MY BOOK I have written a book called Restauranting 101, it focuses on Eight Basic Fundamentals - it has the power to change your life and it's available on Amazon - Buy it Today.

Then, after that - come to food guru . com and…

3- SIGN UP FOR A ONE ON ONE COACHING SESSION… We all need a Coach… as a restaurant owner you need SOMEONE TO TALK TO, someone who understands your struggles, someone who can help you build a strategic plan, and help you get to the next level… This is NOT a webinar or large group event, I will not shuffle you off to an assistant. This is you and me working together to solve your problems and help you get to the next level…

Think about this opportunity for a second… What are you waiting for? What are you afraid of? This is your actual life – this is not a dress rehearsal – Leap and the Net will apper…

I want to be your coach… I want to help you get to the next level – I want to help you live the life of your dreams… When the student is ready – The Food Guru will appear!

Thanks for Listening – Your homework assignment this week is to buy the book and sign up for a One-On-One Coaching session…

See you next week

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