Have you ever wondered why we do what we do?
In coaching and human behaviour we know that while each human being is unique, we also share nervous systems that function in the same way, which means there are finite number of human behaviour patterns that we all have in common – we just put them together in many different ways.
The Six Core Needs is one such pattern that is regarded as one of the most influential in how we live and function as a society and critical to how we achieve happiness and fulfillment or live a life of quiet desperation since all behaviour meets one or all those six needs.
In any given moment, these six core needs are the source of lasting, sustainable happiness and fulfillment. Unfortunately they’re also the source of addictions, violent behaviour and depression.
How can the same six needs give such completely different results?
Let’s take a look. First up, here are the Six Core Human Needs from Anthony Robbins.
- Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure, safety, security
- Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli, adventure
- Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed, independence
- Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
- Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding
- Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others
The Six Core Needs are broken into two parts – the top four are needs of the Ego, and the last two are needs of the Spirit. The top 4 are the most compelling and as much a part of our life as gravity – doesn’t make sense and we don’t always like it but I still don’t recommend you test the theory.
You’ll notice that they’re also in sets of two that look contradictory to each other – Certainty and Uncertainty/Variety, Significance and Connection/Love. That’s because with each set there is such thing as too much of a good thing.
Have you ever noticed that when things become to certain, too much routine, too much same-same groundhog day then we’ll find a way to spice things up a bit, “Variety is the spice of life” they say.
And have you ever seen significant people that appear to have it all, fame and fortune, but feel alone and spiral out of control because they cant find real connection and love?
Whether we’re consciously aware of it or not, our top four needs are being met every day as they have become crucial to our survival, but we all meet and prioritise them differently. As a general rule, we each have a top two “driver” needs and the priority we choose will impact every aspect of our life, and can cause major conflict – especially in our careers and relationships – if we need to interact with people with a different priority order.
Every need is happening, but which one do YOU prioritise?
On a day to day basis we always have all 4 top needs happening, but there are two in particular that will drive our decisions – one from each set, and within those two there will be one that sits as number 1 priority – the tie breaker Driver need.
To work out your number one Driver, look at each need asking “If you could only have one or the other, which would you choose?” Then take the one you choose and compare it with the next one down.
For example – Certainty or Variety – Certainty. Certainty or Significance – Certainty. Certainty or Connection/Love – Certainty. Number 1 need is Certainty.
Then for number two, do the same with the remaining 3 needs.
Variety or Significance – Significance. Significance or Connection/Love – Connection/Love. Connection/Love or Variety – Connection and Love. Number 2 need is Connection/Love.
Be aware though that the words themselves can impact on people’s choices so make sure you use the descriptions above to get a true representation of your number 1 and 2 driving needs.
When faced with a decision, everyone will decide on the behaviour’s or actions to take based on their driving need, people who are driven by certainty/security will make very different decisions about careers, holidays and investments with a level of risk, to people who are driven by variety/adventure.
This can lead to a lot of challenges for couples trying to plan a holiday if they have different priority drivers…
Even within the priority drivers, there is difference. Imagine that each need set is 100%, within each one we each have a sliding scale balance point where we feel the most comfortable – our natural balance.
If someone has Certainty as number one then it could mean that they have anywhere from 51% Certainty to 99% Certainty (49% Variety to 1% Variety)
This changes the behaviour extremes.
- 60% Certainty – likes going to the same restaurant, prefers a secure job
- 75% Certainty – has a set daily routine, prefers an autonomous role they are in control of.
- 90% Certainty – needs to be in control of most aspects of life, often displays OCD behaviour’s, does not respond well to sudden change
Sometimes our sliding scales get out of whack either by our choice or someone else’s, and when they do it creates extra stress that needs to be managed and brought back into alignment. Read about how to handle change here.
Resourceful / Unresourceful
As we meet the top four needs, our behaviour will be either be resourceful or unresourceful – which forms the most dramatic difference between fulfillment or frustration.
Consider the following questions. Is this behaviour:
- Internal or External Driven?
- Internal – 100% up to me and reliant on my actions and perspective to succeed
- External – requires other people or things to go right or be controlled to succeed.
- Sustainable or Unsustainable
- If everyone did this same behaviour would the world/business/community be a good sustainable place to be?
- Good for me, good for you, good for the greater good?
Resourceful behaviour’s= internal driven, sustainable, ecological.
Unresourceful behaviour’s = external driven, unsustainable, not ecological.
It is important to remember that with all behaviour it is still context dependent so while the behaviours here are generally considered to be resourceful or unresourceful – there will still be certain contexts or extremes that push them to the other side. Eg. Cleaning is a resourceful way to meet your need for certainty, but obsessive compulsive cleaning can lead to an inability to leave the home. Drug taking is an unresourceful way to meet the need for variety but many chronic pain sufferers smoke marijuana to be able to find relief from the pain. Read more here.
Needs of the spirit.
The final two needs are unattainable until the top four are being met in a resourceful way. They’re also the most compelling needs that can pull us forward through more challenges than the top four alone.
Many people say that growth and learning can be achieved at the same time as unresourceful behaviours (enter university…) but there always comes a point where the next level or growth requires a decision to let go of the old behaviour for the new – like throwing off sandbags from a rising hot air balloon.
The final need is the source of ultimate happiness which is being able to contribute to others in meaningful way. There is a reason that we all rally together in a crisis. As humans we’ve learnt that there is survival not just of the fittest but in our society its how we work together and the community we have around us.
At our core, we have a need to want to help others for no other reason than it just feels good. As Zig Ziglar said – “If I help enough people’s dreams come true, mine get taken care of.”
With thanks to Anthony Robbins