Published On: Wed, Jan 28th, 2015

Becoming successful through self-actualisation drive

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 Dr Lolu Ojo

Dr Lolu Ojo







Self-actualisation is a term that was first used by Kurt Goldstein in 1939 to describe the ‘tendency to actualise, as much as possible, the (organism’s) individual capacities’ in the world. Abraham Maslow made the term more popular when he developed a hierarchical theory of human motivation in his book, Motivation and Personality (1954). Maslow defined self-actualisation as ‘the desire for self-fulfilment, namely, the tendency for him (the individual) to become actualised in what he is potentially…to become everything one is capable of becoming’. A simple textbook definition is ‘the full realisation of one’s potential’.

The purpose of this piece is not to discuss the theory and details of human motivation as expounded by Abraham Maslow and other renowned scholars but to briefly examine the route that pharmacists (and in fact, all young Nigerians) can take to self-actualisation. However, we will be relying on the writings of Abraham Maslow and other motivational personalities like Prof. Fola Tayo (Designed for Success, Engineered for Accomplishment, 2013) to chart the way forward.


Essence of education

According to Maslow, ‘What a man can be, he must be’. Simply put, if you are capable of scoring 90 per cent in an examination, you should not be satisfied with 70 per cent mark! Education is best defined as ‘the training of mind and character’. As a pharmacist, your mind and character have been trained and prepared to take on the world before you and be the best you can be. You are expected to make the full use (exploitation) of your talents, capacities and potentialities – your environment of operation notwithstanding.

Maslow also told us that ‘the story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short’. With experience, we are almost giving credence to this assertion such that it can be said that the story of pharmacists in Nigeria is the story of men and women selling themselves short! We are challenged in all the areas of practice and we are desperately in need of self-actualisers to serve as role models.

A self-actualiser is a person living creatively and fully using his or her potentials. I will urge all to read more about the 13 characteristics of self-actualisers as written down by Abraham Maslow. This knowledge will help you to stay above your environment.


Excellence despite environment

The time is now to stop talking about the limitation of our environment. The attention should now be focused on the individuals and his or her desire to be self-actualised.

According to Abraham Maslow, ‘what is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself’. Since you left school, have you taken a self-examination about who you are and what you have achieved so far? What is stopping you from getting to highest point of the ‘life ladder’, i.e. a higher purpose of human existence?? This self-examination includes answering several questions about yourself and your life journey:

  1. What do you want in life?
  2. If you do not GO after what you want or desire, you will NEVER have it.
  3. If you do not ASK, the answer will always sound like a NO.
  4. If you do not step FORWARD, you will ALWAYS be in the same place.
  5. If you REMAIN in the same place, you will NEVER SEE what lies ahead of you.
  6. If you DO NOT KNOW what lies ahead of you, you will never ASPIRE.
  7. Do you really know yourself?
  8. Who are you (talents, competencies, skills, knowledge, contacts, strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, etc.)?
  9. Why are you here (or what are you doing here): in the profession, work, societies, church/mosques, etc.?
  10. What is so special about me that I am chosen to perform this task? Are others not available?
  11. What is your destination?
  12. What can you make of your stay here?
  13. Do you have a plan for success?
  14. Where are you now? A situation analysis: defining life’s journey, successes, failures and opportunities.
  15. Where do you want to be? Statement of intent describing the expected output of a plan. Mission, goals, objectives, targets.
  16. How will you get there? Implementation strategy, activities or tasks, etc.
  17. How will you that you have arrived? Measurement, discipline, monitoring and evaluation.
  18. A plan is your vision embodied. Seeing what others are not seeing and communicating between the present and the future. It is an evidence of hope, an expression of aspiration which prepares the planner for a journey into an unseen reality. It is an essential ingredient of success without which self-actualisation may be impossible to attain.
  19. Are you aware of the Do’s and Don’ts?
  20. Never undertake any task that was not planned (Failure is built in already)
  21. Never take NO for an answer.
  22. Do not underestimate or overestimate yourself.
  23. Always expect accomplishment and success.
  24. Do not enter into the train of procrastination.
  25. Live everyday conscious of who you are.
  26. Time is a precious gift that can never be regained when lost. Run away from time devourers.
  27. Don’t make friends with ‘planless’ people.
  28. Be focussed and remain diligent even in adversity.
  29. Document all your activities, thoughts and plans

Expanding your horizon

We may not be able to exhaust the list of things to know or to be done in a single piece. What is important is that you change the awareness of yourself and this could lead to a permanent change in your life. We will give more attention to planning in this column in the nearest future.

There is something you should always remember: ‘If the only tool that you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail’ (Abraham Maslow). It is therefore important for you to constantly update your knowledge base, developing skills and competencies and stay above your environment. Surely and steadily, you will get there.

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Becoming successful through self-actualisation drive