Last week I found myself getting ready to write my blog. I was on school camp, at the base of Mt Hutt. I’d snuck away from the energy and locomotion of the 32 Yr 7 and 8’s and set up my laptop outside on a deck overlooking the Canterbury plains. The evening had an early spring warmth about it and the sky was like a shepherd’s delight. There was peace. 

I got out my laptop ready to write.

And then I stopped, and thought, nah.

At the time I didn’t really have anything to write, but it was my 40 Hour Principal turn and I couldn’t let David, my 40 HP partner down. Davo and I don’t really adhere to any strict rules about what we write about, but right from the start we’ve always stipulated that if it’s your week to write, then write you must!

At the time I didn’t really know what I was going to write about, so when the word “nah” crept into my little brain there was little incentive to continue, and so I packed up my laptop, and went back inside and joined the noisy crowd of excited kids. And I’m really glad I did.

A week later, and here I am ready to write again.

I’ve come across an interesting article on a website called Psychology by a guy called Gary Drevitch. It’s called; To Flourish, Humans are motivated by Four Universal Needs – are you satisfying these needs at work? Could you?

I’ve become a bit wary about any article that has a number in it. There are billions of them around – you know; “Four ways to improve your life”, “Seven necessary steps for cleaning out your nasal spaces” – you know the type.

But this article whetted my appetite. This year has seen so many challenges, and in fact, the last two years have as well. I’m sure all Principals around the world will feel that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the necessary energy to flourish in their chosen vocation. The only good thing about this is that we’re all in the same boat feeling this way.

So when I read this article I was genuinely interested. What are the Four Universal Needs that will help me flourish in my work place?

In his article, Gary Drevitch has helpfully described each of the needs in words beginning with the letter C.

These are the needs that he suggests, based on a number of different research pieces, we all require to get just a little bit more than a sense of satisfaction at work.

There is no particular order. 

  1. “Contribution or Calling. That is, we need to feel as though our life has meaning or purpose. That isn’t to say that it has to be a grandiose sense of importance, but rather that what we do means something to others or to the world generally; that what we do is productive and purposeful.
  2. Choice or Control. Generally we prefer more rather than less choice and more control over what we do and how we do it. In fact, humans tend to actively resist encroachment on their autonomy.
  3. Competence or Capability. That is, it is important to feel as though we do a pretty good   job at what is important to us, and perhaps at least as important is the perception that we are improving or have opportunities to grow more effectively.
  4. Connection or Community. It’s not that we need to be liked by everyone, but it is important to have a set of people who like and respect us; a group we consider our tribe.”

Gary suggests that these four are useful in evaluating your current role. It’s not essential that you have all four at any one time. These aren’t like the list of survival needs, such as food, water, shelter, and safety. But they are useful if you consider the four in your current situation, “with an eye toward proactively making changes to maximize your engagement and life satisfaction.”

As I sat down last week to write my blog during school camp and my mind just said, “Nah”, I wonder if it was subconsciously flowing through the big 4 and making a decision where I would flourish best during the next hour – hanging out with a group of amazing Yr 7 and 8 students!

I certainly had the calling – they were a noisy bunch after all! And I had the choice to either write or not to write. I felt that it was more important to be with the students – this was where my capability was better served. And I wanted to continue the connections of the brilliant day that we’d all just enjoyed.

So on Monday morning make a little time (don’t do it during the weekend) to evaluate your Big 4 at school. What are you missing? What do you need more of? What have you got just right? 

Is this a way to help you flourish more at work?



Your Thoughts?