Stephen Covey wrote, “There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase, to live, to love, to learn, and to leave a legacy.”
This is a very thought-provoking statement and provides guidance on how to treat people, including ourselves, in business and everyday life.
Let’s take a look at how this might apply to us in the real world. The need to live applies to our physiological need for such things as air, water, food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, and health. How this applies to customers depends on the type of business we are in and the economic status of the customers. But for our employees it is very applicable as they cannot function at their best if they have great concerns for the well-being and health of their families. The business must be able to generate sufficient salaries for the employees to beet their basic needs. The same is true for the owners; in looking to provide sufficient incomes for employees, we cannot overlook the needs of the owners. They too must be able to function their best without worry for the physiological needs of their families.
The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love, and to be loved. Not all of us are extroverts that go around glad-handing everyone; some are introverts who get charged up by being alone but they still have the basic need to be loved, to belong, and to love others. Businesses exploit this need with loyalty cards, memberships, and advanced notices of sales. Employees need positive reinforcement, a pat on the back when they have done something worthwhile. We do well by creating a sense of family within the organization.
The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. We have naturally curious minds and it is inherent in all of us is to want to continue to learn, whether business related or not. Providing learning experiences for customers on how to use our products/services and the benefits will likely increase sales. Employees should be continually developed and nurtured to satisfy their needs and therefore improve their performance. The owners also need to continually learn because their markets and technology are continually changing.
The need to leave a legacy is our need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, pride, personal satisfaction, and contribution. We want to leave this world a better place, to feel we have made a difference somehow, and to have pride in the life we have lived. It may take some thought for businesses to understand how they can contribute to their customers need to leave a legacy, but it is worth exploring.
By understanding how our organization can contribute to satisfying the needs of our customers, employees, and our own, we can find ways to improve our offerings and be more successful. In this way, we have achieved one of our own needs, i.e., gaining and unfair advantage over our competition.