What one can be, one must be
Maslow is summarizing in 6 words the human drive toward “better,” toward being fully human, toward being all that we can be. He said it was as real as our need to breath.
Millenia before Maslow, in 382 BCE, one of the great philosophers, Aristotle, was born; he might be the first person who identified this drive. He called it entelechia, the drive to make actual what is currently only potential. Most of us really want to be better, do better, become something more.
Do you realize???
700 years ago…the Plague killed 200 million people in a single year; that is 40% of England’s population.
500 years ago… 3 million people died in France due to famine.
100 years ago… World War I saw 16 million killed and the flu killed 50 million in a single year!
If we heard stats like that today we would be shocked and alarmed.
The world has dramatically progressed in the last 100 years But that progress is often eclipsed by the reporting bias that supports our evolutionary propensity for tuning into negative threats. Which means, negative news sells, because it gets attention, which skews our understanding of what is happening in the real world. Which is why it feels so despairing… entelechia has us wanting things to improve….but it is!
Do you realize the per capita income for every single nation on the planet has tripled in the last century? Food cost has dropped 30X? Not 30%, 30 fold! Transportation hundreds X and communication millions X?
We could dig into all the interesting changes that have happened in the last 100 years. Because few stats are short of mind blowing.
But it illustrates the point of this post. We have a worldview biased to seeing the world as getting worse…when there is hardly one metric where that is true.
If you didn’t see last week’s Wildlybetter video on three books you must read, go watch it… it is all about this wild improvement in our world.
Over time we ARE improving. And entelechia is the impulse, the spark the prompt that moves us toward improving.
Which raises a question….are you?
Are you getting better?
What gets attention grows.
What gets attention gets invested with intention.
So where is your attention? What is your intention?
Where is entelechia prompting you?
This might be a more important question than ever because one of the big areas of global improvement is lifespan.
You stand to be here on this planet longer than any generation, bar the original methuselah generations.
100,000 years ago, cavemen lived til their late 20's. By age 13, humans went into puberty and began having children; by 26, those parents became grandparents and soon passed away.
Lifespan grew to about 35 by the Middle Ages.
In the 1800’s it was around 40.
Today it is around 80 and rising all the time.
You, on average, have more years ahead than your great-grandparents had on this planet.
What is getting your entelechia impulse to be a contributor and dent-maker?
What is getting your attention and intention this week? What are your deepest priorities?
To move from the comfortable bayou of the known into the vast ocean of the unknown will take wild courage, friend.
Rollo May, the 20th century eminent psychologist described entelechia in his book The Courage to Create:
“The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day. These decisions require courage.”
Grab some courage, focus your attention, bring some intention to your deepest priorities, and become all that you can be.