Hello everyone. It has been a while since I’ve posted. I retired this summer and I took the opportunity to chillax a little. It was nice. Now, I’m back to building my training business and enhancing the careers of public safety personnel.

While I was chillaxing this summer, I had the opportunity to read some material and watch some videos by Tony Robbins. I have to admit, I always knew who he was, but I never really paid attention to him. I must say, I am a very big fan now – and I’m not always easily won over.

What I like about Tony’s teachings are that they look at the root causes of why people do what they do. With most people, actions are driven by emotions and emotions are driven by psychological or human needs. A foundation of Tony’s talks is understanding the six human needs that drive people. Said needs are:

1. Certainty – We need to know what is going to happen, or, at least have a good idea as to what will happen. We do this by creating routines and setting attainable goals with mapped out steps. It’s predictable and provides consistency in our lives.

2. Uncertainty – What? Uncertainty? You just said certainty. Believe it or not, we also need some variety in our lives. As long as the variety is pleasant – serendipitous. As Tony says, if the surprise is something we don’t like, we call it a problem. Taking a spontaneous weekend trip with our partners or mountain biking on a trail you’ve never ridden before are good examples of positive uncertainty.

3. Significance – We all want to be relevant, or significant, in some fashion. Of course, some want this more than others. We have a need to be recognized for our accomplishments. Whether it’s obtaining a PhD or a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, we do it for our own sense of accomplishment, but also for the recognition, which equals significance.

4. Love & Connection – We all crave love; it’s human. If we don’t get love, we will accept a connection, which, according to Tony, are the scraps of love. We all want to feel love and connection with our family, our close friends and our coworkers (well, maybe not all of our coworkers). It satisfies a significant part of our emotional needs.

5. Growth – If you are not growing, you are dying. That is a philosophy that Tony uses. He says that there are no plateaus in life. He adds that we must grow personally, in our relationships, at our jobs, even as parents. I tend to follow his philosophy because it is in my nature. But, I can see where some people like ruts, or plateaus. I suppose it goes back to certainty.

6. Contribution – This is straight from Tony – “Life is really about creating meaning. And meaning does not come from what you get, it comes from what you give. Ultimately it’s not what you get that will make you happy long term, but rather who you become and what you contribute will.” 

Now that I’ve listed the needs, Tony adds that we are all unique on which needs we focus. He also adds that the way the needs get met can be positive, neutral, or negative. For example, let’s take the need for recognition. Some may look for it by making themselves better in academics (Master’s or PhD). That is a way to be recognized positively. How about the person we all know that always has bigger problems than everyone else. They are sicker, have less money, a crappier life, etc. These people are seeking recognition, but in a negative way.

I am only scratching the surface of the point that Tony makes. Just understand that emotions drive action. But what drives emotions? Is it solely extrinsic or intrinsic needs? It would seem that much of what drives us are these six intrinsic needs. Knowing what these needs are, how can we as leaders use them to be of service to our people?

In my opinion, we have to start with ourselves. Take a look at the six needs and analyze yourself. What drives you and how does it effect you as a leader (positive or negative)? After your self-analysis, look at your people and see what drives them. If you have a person that seeks positive recognition, foster it and direct it. If you have people that seek negative recognition, call them out and illustrate that they are taking themselves, and the team, in a negative direction. Maybe, if they actually see and understand what they are doing, they may change the negative behavior.

I realize that I’m taking a broad topic and funneling it down into a blog post. But I highly recommend, as a leader, you familiarize yourself with Tony’s six emotional needs to better understand what drives you and what drives your people. I have incorporated this concept into my leadership classes with very positive results. What do you think?

Here are a few links to Tony explaining the six emotional needs: