You Can Contribute and You Can Make a Difference

Anthony Robbins has a framework for human needs. It’s very much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, something a lot of people are familiar with, especially if you have taken a psychology class. Maslow’s needs are called deficiency needs, and Robbins are the same, even if he has made them more practical and tactical, something that makes them easy to understand and apply.

Robbins’ Six Human Needs are certainty, variety, belongingness (love and connection), significance, growth, and contribution. Like Maslow, all human beings share these needs, each of us being driven more by some than others. Much like Maslow’s hierarchy starts at your physiological needs and moves up to safety, then to belongingness, before reaching needs of a higher order, the needs Robbins framework follows the same direction, with contribution being the top of the pyramid (for Maslow, it’s self-transcendence). Once your deficiency needs are met, contribution seems to be the greatest driver, and the one that provides the greatest sense of meaning, mission, and purpose.

If you want the ultimate hack when it comes to creating a sense of meaning, and mission, and purpose in your life, you can shift right to contribution. At any time, you can contribute to some cause outside of yourself. You can find someone or some organization that needs your help, and you can give them your time and energy or your money (no matter how much or how little).

I once heard a story about a senior executive at a big company. He decided to get his MBA in Philanthropy. I was unaware that a degree was necessary, having always believed that a check given to a worthy cause— that also clears the bank—makes one a philanthropist. Generosity isn’t something that is reserved to the wealthy and well-off. Giving what you are able to give, regardless of how much or how little, is generosity and compassion, neither of which should be measured or compared to what others give.

You can approach the hierarchy of needs from the other direction. You can contribute to some cause beyond yourself. What you give makes a difference, just like each drop of water makes up the ocean, one drop being no more or no less than every other drop, none being more or less wet than any other.

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