What if you start from the top of the pyramid?

A famous psychologist, Abraham Maslow, laid down a list of needs in the order which people go through in their life, starting from the bottom of the following pyramid. Most people intuitively know this pyramid.


Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Maslow

Most individuals follow this pyramid scaling one step after the other in the pyramid. In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan added one more step above self-actualization: Transcendence – which they define as “Help others realize their potential”.

Chip and Dan also argue that you don’t scale the pyramid step by step starting from the bottom. If that were the case, there would be no starving artists. I couldn’t agree more. Humans are complex and difficult to define in one pattern. Some people would prefer love over esteem. Others would forsake their Physiological needs for respect and so on.

Maslow being Maslow, understood that. However, this is the best generalization he could come up with. The followers and teachers just preached this to be the benchmark which is not.

In any case, the provided model gives us a framework of how humans work.

Most people don’t think about philanthropy before having enough for them. Most people put off their creative pursuits until they have enough money working in a job they didn’t want to do. Most people will sell their soul if the amount is right.

The question is:

What if we start from the top of the pyramid?

Just like the starting from the bottom of the pyramid doesn’t apply to everybody, starting from the top is not for everybody either.

Nature takes good care of most of our physiological needs. If you can’t breathe or poo, then the whole pyramid crumbles anyway. The people who you read about, who matter, who did something great for humanity – a big portion of them started at the top of the pyramid.

Nobody just starts at the top of the pyramid. If you are thinking “What about the rich people?” Yes. Money helps. However, people born with a silver spoon are no exception.

Everybody is surrounded by people with expectations around them. They have to face the societal pressures same as regular folks. They may look different to us regular folks, but the societal expectations exist nonetheless.

So coming back to the question:

What if we start from the top of the pyramid?

When you start from the top of the pyramid, you start with an abundance mentality. You help others to achieve their dreams and in the process achieve yours thus fulfilling all the lower ladders by default.

How to start from the top of the pyramid?

The top of the pyramid is about transcendence, which is helping others to achieve their potential. It involves teaching others, providing a solution that solves a problem. Do you know who else solves problems? Entrepreneurs.

If you start solving problems that others are facing, you will start on a journey that will not only need you to make use of all your mental powers (self-actualization) but will also result in fame, fortune, or both.

What if starting from the top of the pyramid doesn’t work?

If you failed at starting from the top of the pyramid, there is a good chance that you weren’t thinking about others enough or you identified a wrong problem.

Also, if it didn’t work, you can always start from the bottom.

But the question you should be asking yourself is – what if it works?

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