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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
needs determine our course in life, March 9, 2008, 3D.
If you were given
the task of getting a tennis ball into a box, how would you do it? Would you stand next to the box and then extend
your arm and drop the ball directly into the box? Or
might you position yourself a distance away from the box and toss the ball into it? Assuming that you succeeded in your first attempt,
how would you position yourself for a second attempt?
Would you do it the exact same way or would you make it more challenging for
yourself and move further away from the box?
and his well-known research on learned needs gives explanation for the distances that
people choose when attempting such a task. People
with a high need for achievement position themselves at distances that are challenging,
yet also have a fairly high probably of success. People
with a high need for achievement are driven to accomplish exceptional and unusual things. Simply dropping the ball into the box would not
provide them with a sense of accomplishment or achievement.
Standing too far away brings in elements of luck rather than skill.
research also identified two other learned needs: the need for power and the need for
affiliation. People with a strong need for
power have a built-in need to be in control of others and situations. McClelland described power needs as being
personalized or socialized. A personalized
power need is characterized by wanting power and control for personal reasonsfor the
gratification that comes from having others do what you want them to do. A socialized power need is characterized by
wanting power to use for the good of others. A
person with a high need for affiliation is someone who actively seeks out the company of
others. They have a strong desire to include
others in events and to be included by others.
Learned needs, as
described McClelland, come from experiences in early life.
The stories that children hear and learn, the lessons that they gain from
parents and influential others, and the messages that they receive from their environments
all help shape and determine what is regarded as important and worthwhile. Eventually, those lessons influence how people
approach life, interpret events, and behave. People
who value achievement as an important quality will eventually come to view opportunities
in life as ways to accomplish unusual and exceptional things. Likewise, those with strong needs for power and
affiliation will see and interpret life events as opportunities to meet those needs. The learned needs that people develop in life
serve as lenses by which they see and approach the world.
social entities that exist to accomplish goals and objectives. Power and influence are necessary to bring about
compliance and performance from others. A
combination of people who are high in needs for achievement, power (preferably socialized
power), and affiliation is needed for well-coordinated, functional, and vibrant
organizations. Organizations of all types
need people who achieve, influence, and work well with others.
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