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Hi Human - You Have Needs

leadership transition Apr 07, 2021

-By Jane Halford

The pandemic continues to challenge our organizations and all of us as individuals. If you or anyone you care about needs a fresh perspective on what they are experiencing, here’s a model from Tony Robbins.

In July 2020 I was fortunate to participate in the first virtual Unleash the Power Within. During the session I learned about the concept of the 6 human needs

Since that time, this model has helped me better understand where I am struggling and how I can help myself keep moving forward even when the world is unpredictable.


"My hope is that this will help you or someone you care about."


The first need is for certainty. That is to have predictable, reliable aspects of life. What part of 2020 was certain? In some ways I unconsciously filled that need by creating routines for my day – when I got up, when I started and stopped working, and when I walked to the dog.

Next comes the human need for variety. Before the pandemic I would have filled this need by travel, going out for meals with people, and playing tennis. During the lockdown I knew watching TV wouldn’t fill this need, so I turned to online courses and content from positive-minded influencers.

The third need that we all have is significance. That means that you feel like you matter to someone. At first, I didn’t really know if this was something I needed. It was only when I found alone so much that it became a higher priority for me. Who do I matter to? I had not considered that before. Maybe I felt that was a selfish thought that it should be avoided. My friends and family certainly were critical to feeling significant but what I discovered was how much appreciate working with my clients and fellow board members.

The next human need is love and connection. This one was and continues to be the greatest struggle for me. Sure, connecting with friends and family by phone or video chat was better than being cut off but after a while virtual connections became exhausting. My whole business had moved to online meetings so by 6 pm the last thing I wanted to do was be in front of the screen.


"Someone in my network reminded me that I should not overlook the power of having a pet."


My dog, Miley, was my COVID buddy. Her love and companionship gave me comfort that “we” would get through this. Sadly, Miley passed away mid-October and then I felt terribly alone. I had to find new strategies and talk more openly with my friends about that challenge. There were many great ideas, and I was managing okay. Then, came Ranger. I adopted a 2-year-old dog at the end of January 2021. I was back with a pandemic furry friend and he is a dog who loves to cuddle!

The two remaining needs are growth and contribution. Not every person needs these to a high degree, but I know I do. My overindulgence in online courses kept me growing during the pandemic. I know that many days that was what inspired and energized me to keep moving ahead. Contribution means giving back to something bigger than you. This need was met by the roles I have with boards and individuals I mentor. Previously I had struggled to explain why those mattered so much to me, but I now have the word, contribution.

My other significant takeaway from this framework was that


"individuals can fill their needs through positive or negative behaviour."


Yes, I have tried many bad habits during the pandemic. I found myself trying to take care of my needs with ice cream, Cheetos, wine, cookies, chocolate…to name a few. Once I figured out that those would not meet my needs in the long term, I was able to stop. I wonder if that old ice cream is still in the freezer?


"You’re a human. You have needs."


What is working for you to meet them in 2021? If you need a reset, pick one new activity that will meet your greatest unmet need this month. I’m sure it will bring you more peace and joy.


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