5 Examples of Self-actualization Needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy)

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a significant theory in psychology, which was postulated by the noted American psychologist Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Even after receiving criticism for being western in nature, the theory is still relevant and a significant part of management studies. On top of the five tiers of these needs lies the “Self-actualization Needs.”

Self-actualization Needs


“Self-actualization” is the highest or fifth level of the five-stage model. According to this model, Self-actualization needs are considered as the highest-order motivation needs and by which one can realize his/her real potential and can achieve the “ideal self.” Self-growth, i.e., both personal and creative, comes under Self-actualization and which can be achieved by realizing full potential. The full potential can be realized by having a great sense of completeness or fulfillment and through achieving sound mental health. So, Self-actualization needs include the realization of full potential, looking for personal growth, creativity, peak experiences, and fulfillment of self.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Characteristics of Self-actualization

  • They have a strong sense of acceptance for others and themselves.
  • They are creative people having a great creative sense.
  • Self-actualized people are able to make and sustain deep relationships.
  • They possess great humor and are capable of finding humor in their own problem areas or mistakes.
  • They work towards a purpose and their activities are directed towards fulfilling that purpose.
  • They naturally show empathy for others.
  • Self-actualization is challenging as well; because people require a strong sense of aim or goal and awareness of self.


Self-actualization has been defined by different scholars. Few definitions are as under:

  • Merriam-Webster has defined Self-actualization as a process by which one can fully develop and use his/her abilities.
  • As per the American Dictionary “New Oxford,” Self-actualization is considered as everyone’s need or drive for the fulfillment of their own potential and talent.
  • According to Dictionary.com, Self-actualization can be defined as achieving full potential by creativity, spontaneity, independence, and grasping the real world.


One can realize his/her potential, i.e., creative or intellectual, through Self-actualization. The significance of Self-actualization lies in using our full potential or capabilities to achieve our desired goal.

Examples of Self-actualization Needs

Let’s have some real-life examples of Self-actualization Needs.

1. Famous Personalities

Famous Leaders

The famous personalities like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, etc., are the live examples who had anticipated Self-actualization by living purposefully for the betterment of the society. Nelson Mandela had served his life for racial equality in a very unstable environment of violence, racism, political instability. He had a sense of realizing his full potential and was a self-actualized person. He used his potential for the aim of creating a society without any racism. Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian freedom fighter who fought for the nation through non-violence and had set an example of being a great leader in the world. He stood up for freedom at the risk of his own life. Other famous personalities like Abraham Lincoln, Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, etc., are a few examples who had achieved Self-actualization or their full-potential by doing great work for their society.

2. Growth and Development of Employees

Growth and Development of Employees

Employees having Self-actualization needs are more concerned about their growth and development in the workplace. They look for more challenging assignments in their work, more independent work with less supervision, leadership roles, participation in decision-making in key issues, an opportunity to enhance their skills and education, etc. So, to meet the Self-actualization needs of employees, the managers promote an environment where employees can get the desired opportunities.

3. Artists and Creative People

Art is considered as a great platform for Self-actualization as it increases the psychological wellness of people. Both artists and audiences interpret art that ultimately moves toward self-realization, which is a form of Self-actualization, like painters are supposed to paint, writers to write, and musicians to play or compose music.

4. Exhibitions of Art

Different exhibitions are organized to demonstrate the creative work or creativity of different artists like painters, writers, etc. In these exhibitions, paintings of famous painters and books or novels of well-known writers are displayed. It fulfills the Self-actualization needs of artists.

5. Social Workers

Different people work as a volunteer for the betterment of the society without any personal benefit in return for the fulfillment of their Self-actualization needs, i.e., to fulfill the actual meaning of their life. These people or social workers either serve mankind independently or by associating themselves with NGOs or trusts meant for providing basic facilities to poor and needy people of a society or by making their own NGO or trust. For example, well-known personality and social worker Mrs. Sudha Murthy who is the wife of  Mr. Narayna Murthy and also the chairperson of Infosys Foundation. She anticipated self-realization or Self-actualization by getting herself involved in different social work activities like education, healthcare, women empowerment, art and culture, public hygiene-related work, poverty issues, etc. 70,000 libraries in different schools have been established as a result of her vision of opening up a library for each school. She also contributed to making public toilets in Banglore for public hygiene. Lots of other social activities are also there in her social work.

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