November 4, 2022

What People Really Want

The great philosopher Aristotle once shared that the pursuit of happiness is the central purpose in human life.

I have learned that if you try to ascertain what people really want—and you do this by asking probing questions and listening—you can help them achieve much of what they desire. I found that this is an effective way of getting more people to participate and open up. Ultimately, if you can help others achieve what they would like then you can also achieve what you would like.

There are five or six major aspirations most people desire both in their professional and personal lives. Even Anthony Robbin’s shared that success and happiness can be found by meeting the 6 core human needs. In 2008, Google did a significant study they referred to as “Project Oxygen” to help discover if there are common traits amongst their most successful leaders. Termed or coined ‘Oxygen’ because they consider managers to be the lifeblood of an organization. Google confirmed that these characteristics (italicized below) indeed lead to better outcomes, and I thought it would be worthwhile to share an overview.

So what do people really want?

  1. Happiness: People want to love and be loved. Most of their decisions in life center around being happy. Those with the best relationships tend to be the happiest. “The secret to happiness is to love. The essence of love is to serve.” – Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing, priest and founder of Boys’ and Girls’ Town of Italy
  2. Contribution: Many people want to make a significant difference—most want to contribute, to provide their input, and feel they are part of the process in various areas. Google found that creating an inclusive team that shows concern in the success and wellbeing of associates and being a good collaborator was essential.
  3. Significance: People want to know that they made a difference and that they feel important to their families and children, their communities, and those that they work with and serve. They want to be valued. Being a good coach is being a good communicator, but it is also imperative to listen and share meaningful information and resources.
  4. Certainty: People fear the unknown. Most people want a sense of security and certainty in their lives.  It provides a higher level of confidence. Having a clear vision and strategy for the team as well as having the key technical and decision-making skills to advise them can provide a strong sense of needed security.
  5. Growth: Many people want to build, grow, achieve and feel they are evolving in their relationships, careers and various pursuits in their lives. It’s important to be productive, results-oriented and support associates with career development.
  6. 6. Variety: While we fear the unknown, people can often become bored or stagnant if they don’t have variety because they don’t feel stimulated. Life is too routine. We need to be stimulated, challenged and to have variety in our professional and personal lives. By empowering your team, not micromanaging, it can encourage an open environment for innovation and ideation.

Perhaps this list is of no surprise. However, consistency and authenticity in the way they are applied is what really makes an impact.

As we work towards our goals in business and in life, it’s important to understand how others can achieve the six meaningful aspirations. How can you help them find happiness, make a contribution, feel significant, have certainty, grow and experience variety? Bring others along with you as you seek to find these desired states of being. While you’re pursuing fulfillment on our journey, it’s important to recognize that others also want to achieve these aspirations in their life.

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