I recently posted a picture on Instagram and in the blurb I spoke about the “core need” of significance. This started some really interesting conversations so I thought I’d explain the Six Core Needs in a bit more detail.
The Six Core Needs are part of the life work of Tony Robbins. After working with millions of people from all over the world, Tony identified that human beings are inherently motivated by a desire to fulfil six universal core needs. These needs are a bit like respiration: we don’t wake up and decide to breathe, we just do it. It’s the same with these core needs in that we are subconsciously seeking to meet them all day and every day.
Every individual prioritises the six core needs in their own unique order. For example, one person may have love and connection as their #1 need, and another person may have significance as their top need. This means that the way these people move through the world will be different.
These needs and the order that we have unconsciously placed them drive every action, decision, strategy and choice we make in our life, yet most of us have no idea they even exist!
One important consideration is around how we meet our core needs. We can either meet them in a resourceful/positive way which is, generally speaking, what makes us feel happy and fulfilled. Alternatively, we can meet our needs in an unresourceful/negative way, but then we tend to feel unhappy and unfulfilled.
So let’s take a look at each core need in a bit more detail:
Need 1: Certainty/Comfort
The first human need is the need for certainty. It’s our need to feel in control and to know what’s coming next so that we feel secure. It’s the need for basic comfort, avoiding pain and stress, and also creating pleasure.
Our need for certainty is all about survival, safety, security, predictability, control, consistency and order. If you hate taking risks, then I would predict that this core need sits very high on your list because this is where risk-tolerance lives.
Need 2: Uncertainty/Variety
This need is all about variety, excitement, change, challenges, difference, chaos, and adventure. Someone who has prioritised uncertainty as one of their top needs would probably die of boredom with a lot of sameness and predictability: change is what feeds this person’s soul.
They love adventure, they surround themselves with lots of people and challenge is something that inspires them to grow.
This need could be fulfilled by jumping out of a plane, eating different food at every meal or driving home from work in different ways.
Need 3: Significance
This need is all about feeling unique, worthy of love, special, valued, having a sense of importance, and being needed.
How do we get significance? One could obtain it by earning millions of dollars, or perhaps collecting academic degrees – the latter serving to distinguish a student who earns a Masters or PhD from the rest of their cohort. Alternatively, one could have a big social media following which helps that person meet their need for significance.
Some people do it by putting tattoos and piercings all over their body. Others get significance by having more problems or bigger problems than everybody else. One can even get it by being more spiritual (or pretending to be!).
Need 4: Love & Connection
The fourth basic need is love and connection. Love is the oxygen of life – it’s what we all want and need most. When we love completely we feel alive, but when we lose love the pain can be so great that some people settle for connection which is second-best to love. You can meet your need for connection and love through intimate relationships and friendships. Some meet this need through prayer and meditation. Being in nature connects us and can make us feel a part of something bigger, and owning a pet is another way to meet this need.
Tony explains that the first four needs are needs of the personality. We all find ways to meet these—whether by working harder, coming up with a big problem, or creating stories to rationalise them. The last two core needs are needs of the spirit. These are more rare: not everyone meets these. But when these needs are met we truly feel fulfilled.
Need 5: Growth
There is a great saying: “you are either green and growing or ripe and rotting”. Growth is paramount for the human spirit to feel fulfilled. If your business, relationship, or mind isn’t growing, how do you feel? I’d say that normally you’d feel frustrated or stagnant.
Growth is a key part of remaining vital and expansive.
Need 6: Contribution
The last need is contribution, that is, giving beyond yourself. Life’s not about me, it’s about we. Ultimately it’s not what you get that will make you happy in the longterm, rather it’s who you become in the process and what you contribute to the world around you.
We can meet this need by being a parent and raising a child, by giving our time/money/resources away, or simply by carrying someone’s shopping bags out to their car for them.
Again, as Tony says, these last two are the needs of the spirit and this is where true fulfilment lives. Happy people are consistently meeting these needs in a high quality way.
By understanding the Six Core Needs you will have an insight into why you do the things you do. Remember that self-awareness is one of the most powerful pathways to happiness. When we understand and influence ourselves our potential is unlimited.
Not only that, we will understand the people around us much more deeply, meaning we are able to influence and encourage them to act in ways that meet their core needs. Now that is gold!
If you would like some more information on the Six Core Needs, pop a comment below and we can chat. Have a beautiful week!