I was recently inspired by a Ted Talk on how Bruce Lee could teach us something about ‘self-actualisation’ and I wanted to share what I took away from it. How are you? This was something Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter and speaker, asked frequently throughout the talk. This isn’t necessarily about how you feel. This is about how you are as an individual. Are you generous? Are you lazy? Are you motivating? Let’s get on to how we answer that question.
What is self-actualisation?
Originally coined by Abraham Maslow, self-actualisation is the practice of becoming aware of yourself, and the way you impact those around you. Or, as the dictionary puts it:
“the achievement of one's full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world.”
It’s not about over thinking what you said to someone last week and replaying scenarios in your head. It’s about looking at things - and how you respond - in a new way. By asking yourself some important questions on your values, you can tap into a new awareness of yourself, and start living life more fully.
How can I practice it?
Start by asking yourself some very basic questions:
Why? Why am I here? What are my values? Think about what is most important to you.
What? What do you have: a job, a home and hobbies? Children? These aren’t possessions. More like ‘situations’.
How? How do you get from your why to your what? This part is the most important as this is where you become aware of who you are. Are you kind? Are you creative? Are you grumpy at work but funny at home?
Once you’ve stood back and really thought about these questions, you can start to shape a picture of how you are. How you are is how you act all of the time. The good and the bad. If you’re unhappy or ashamed of how you act sometimes, then it’s time to start practicing more awareness.
What are the benefits?
When you start self-actualising, you start just being you. Not only will you be giving yourself a big sense of relief (no different personalities for work and home), but you’ll also leave a lasting impression around you. As you start to apply your values and awareness to every situation, you’ll start treating everyone the same way. You start becoming consistent and grounded. You start accepting others, as well as yourself.
This isn’t about being serious. It’s about having a grasp on your reality. Being able to see things for what they are. Letting go of your own mistakes, and of those around you.
Benefits in the workplace
Self-actualisation has helped me with my new working environment. Since starting at Lucidity, I've been working full-time at home. This has been great for me, but it does come with its own challenges. As anyone who works from home knows, the line between work time and home time blurs. Since becoming more aware of who I am and my values, it's helped me look at my situation differently and bring 'life' and 'work' together. Instead of feeling pressure to separate them, I've become more realistic about both my work and outside of that, allowing me to naturally set healthy boundaries between the two, without losing myself. And as work becomes more flexible and fluid, this will be an important skill for more of us to develop.
Self-awareness needs to be practiced regularly. It’s very easy to get caught up in our own bubble, cycling round and round into the same patterns. It shouldn’t come with any pressure either. It’s OK to slip up and just be human. Remember, life is a process not a goal!
If you’re interested in learning more about the practice and where it’s come from, here’s some resources:
- The Path to Self Actualisation by Matthew Okeke. Book
- Understanding Maslow's Theory of Self-Actualization by Thought Co. Article
- What Bruce Lee can teach us about living life fully by Shannon Lee. Video