The Decisions Behind Every Purchase
Recently, on a Saturday morning, I happened to find myself connecting to a local Zoom meeting where the main topic of the online gathering was to talk about How to Approach Parenting Gen-Z Kids. The main speaker was known to me as I had previously met him through my “day job”. It is often interesting to hear someone that you know discuss something in more depth. Getting a deeper understanding of what they think about the topic, how they evaluate it, and sometimes, if they open and explain their justifications, we come to understand the why of their perceptions of the topic.
Personally, I am a father of three kids. If you keep up with all the labels that we seem to be defining ages by, I am the proud Overseer of two Gen-Z biological females and one Gen-Alpha biological male. In realistic Dad terms, that means that I have two daughters, Bubs (11 going on 21) & Mei-Mei (9 going on 16), and a son, Boy (3 going on… and on… and on…). Any parent that relates to the second description of my kids, I have a feeling that you’ll get what I’m saying in the rest of the article. Let me clarify though, my kids are awesome, they have helped, and continue to help, me become a better father, a better husband, a better colleague, a better friend; really, overall a better person as a whole.
The morning speaker brought up the topic of Mazelow’s hierarchy of needs. If there are any of you who enjoy reading in the area of psychology, you would be familiar with Mazelow’s theory that states that there are five distinctive levels of needs where the lower needs must be satisfied before the higher needs can be attended to. These levels are as follows:
Level 1: Physiological Needs
Level 2: Safety Needs
Level 3: Belongingness and Love Needs
Level 4: Esteem Needs
Level 5: Self-actualisation
Now in terms of parenting, this adds an interesting analytical conundrum to the hierarchy, because in parenting, you are no longer talking about an individual, you are talking about a multitude of persons (at least 2 – a parent and a child – but usually more). The moment that you add another person to the levels of needs, then you have to add the diversity of choice, the multitudes of personal expectations. A big part of the discussion was aimed at giving advice to parents on how to approach parenting itself. There were things said that I myself wouldn’t subscribe to nor agree with, but the focus was how to approach parenting and not how to parent. And that, is the point that I’d like us to think about today.
Whatever we do, is the outcome of our mind (very quickly) going through a multitude of decisions that become the foundation of an action. In others words, what we do is based on what we think. I remember talking about this topic a few years ago with a colleague and we were discussing the decision making process of where we would go for lunch. Both of us, being interested in psychology, decided to try to track our decision making process by Mazelow’s hierarchy and challenged ourselves to find out what would it take to become self-actualised in the decision making of where we went for lunch. And it went something like this:
Level 1: Physiological Needs – we are hungry, and needed sustenance (duh). CHECK.
Level 2: Safety Needs – We want to eat healthy (because that’s what our mum’s told us was good for us) and we didn’t want to go too far from the office incase we needed to come back quickly. CHECK.
Level 3: Belongingness and Love Needs – We thought about whether we should call our wives to join us for lunch, but then thought about the level 2 Safety Needs, and therefore decided that Safety Needs outweighed our Belongingness and Love Needs. So through this analysis, we decided that we should go somewhere that has a friendly environment and we know the staff. CHECK.
Level 4: Esteem Needs – We actually decided that if we were able to meet the requirements of Levels 1-3, we would be proud of ourselves with the accomplishment. CHECK.
Level 5: Self-actualisation – hmmm….. Now this was the interesting one. If we were to truly accomplish what we set out to do and reach the peak of the hierarchy, we needed to conquer the last climb. Self-actualisation. My friend and I paused. You could see from our faces that we were deep in thought when contemplating this final section of our objective. We paused a little longer, looked at each other, and one of us asked, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“If you’re asking yourself what does self-actualisation mean, then you are thinking what I’m thinking.”
We both laughed.
It turned out, that we had breezed through the first four levels of the hierarchy, but got stuck at the fifth level because we didn’t really know what it was. So, we looked it up.
Self-actualisation is the process where an individual reaches their full potential.
How-on-earth do we apply that to our decision of where to go for lunch? We were both stumped at the beginning. Could we actually get to a level of becoming self-actualised through the decision of where we were going to eat lunch? We started throwing some ideas around, and it took us a while, however finally found ourselves on focussing on how we would define a person’s full potential in order for them to be able to become fully self-actualised. Our discussion started humorously with a person’s capacity to input food. But we knew that wasn’t the answer. We thought about how we would be positive and happy when we were there so that we would impact the environment around us. But that wasn’t a complete answer either.
We finally came to what we thought was a good answer: A person’s full potential is found ultimately in the legacy that they leave behind. But what do we leave behind when we go for lunch? Dirty plates & cutlery? Then it finally dawned on us together; MONEY!! The primary legacy that we leave behind, is the money that we exchange for the food that we partake of. So, a fully self-actualised decision of where we go for lunch, is going to be based on where we want to leave our money. And this began our final discussion, before we realised that there was no time for lunch that day after we’d spent all the time thinking about making the decision!!
After a good meal, we usually think about how much we enjoyed the taste, the aroma, the environment, the friendly service; however, we rarely think about where we have spent the money and how does that benefit the community as a whole. Thinking about WHERE we spend our money, plays a very important role in building the first four levels of the hierarchy of needs throughout our community. When we decide to support our local community economy, we build sustainability for all of us together. I know it’s a huge ask of everyone, but we want the communities that we live in to thrive, become safe, cost effective, and establish a variety of choice, then we need to all self-actualise and look how our decision as to where we spend our finances actually benefits the community around us, and encourages it to reach its full potential.
Let’s self-actualise the community together!!