Self-Actualisation Characteristics

By pete 3 years ago

Becoming everything you are capable of becoming.

A couple of further thoughts (see recent post) on Abraham Maslow’s concept of self-actualisation. A self-actualiser being someone who has the desire to realise one’s full potential. Leading to a rather grand outcome of becoming everything they are capable of becoming.

Maslow contends that self-actualised individuals exhibit the following characteristics. Again an acknowledgement to the Positive Psychology web site for the summary of the characteristics. Italics represent a few of my observations.

  • Acceptance and realism: persons are unthreatened, unfrightened by the unknown. they have a superior ability to reason, to see the truth. They are logical and efficient. Accept themselves, others and the natural world the way they are. However, while they are realistic they don’t place self-imposed limits on achieving things that are important to them.
  • Spontaneity, Simplicity, Naturalness: Spontaneous in their inner life, thoughts and impulses, they are unhampered by convention. Their ethics is autonomous, they are individuals, and are motivated to continual growth. Personally I am attracted to the notion of unconventional as a precursor to shaping change – worth asking yourself when have you gone against the group think within your organisation?

  • Problem Centering: Focus on problems outside themselves, other centered. They have a mission in life requiring much energy, their mission is their reason for existence. They are serene, characterised by a lack of worry, and are devoted to duty. Interesting, how many serene individuals do you encounter? Personally not many. But a sense of purpose beyond oneself is a great driver of positive energy.

  • Detachment- The Need for Privacy: Alone but not lonely, unflappable, retain dignity amid confusion and personal misfortunes, objective. They are self-starters, responsible for themselves, own their behaviour. I understand the role of personal accountability embedded in this characteristic – but it almost implies not being a team player??Certainly since Maslow’s time in the sun, collaboration has become an important factor in value creation.

  • Autonomy: Independent of Culture and Environment: rely on inner self for satisfaction. Stable in the face of hard knocks, they are self-contained, independent from love and respect. Again get the independence and self-contained attributes but when I think of my own quest for self-actualisation I find it difficult to be an outcome at the expense of love and respect.

  • Continued Freshness of Appreciation: Have a fresh rather than stereotyped appreciation of people and things. Appreciation of the basic good in life, moment to moment living is thrilling, transcending and spiritual. They live the present moment to the fullest. Today we would see it as mindfulness at play. What can one say, grab it with both hands and an expansive mind!

  • Peak experiences: The feeling of ecstasy and wonder and awe, the loss of placement in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened. Again bring it on – but clearly it is also an outcome of truly knowing yourself, the goals you wish to tick off, the artistic expressions you embrace and frankly the way you see the world.


When one ponders some of the language above eg wonder, awe, transcending, thrilling, self-contained, unflappable, other-centered, unhampered, realistic – there is a lot to shoot for. Worth a crack.


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