By Peter Weddle, CEO TAtech
In last week’s column, I wrote that we can and should do better than simply returning to what’s normal after we tame the pandemic and its sibling recession. The grass was greener in the past, to be sure, but it was hardly a luxuriant lawn. Income inequality, racial injustice, planet harming behavior and the usurpation of human workers by technology were the hallmarks of that normal. Even if it seems like an improvement over what we face today, it was a long way from perfect. So, I made the case that we deserve a brighter future. I said we should reach for Unconditional Actualization For All.
That post generated a lot of email, with many of you asking just what the phrase actually means. As is probably evident to many, it wraps three seemingly disparate ideas together: a lesson learned from one of America’s finest hours, the hierarchy of human need devised by Abraham Maslow and the country’s Pledge of Allegiance. Understanding the value of that combination, however, and what it will take to actually achieve it involves far too many logical load bearing beams than can be erected in a single blog post. That said, the following additional detail will hopefully provide more clarity on both the power and the promise of the idea.
Unconditional Actualization For All is, first and foremost, a rallying cry. As the expression of just two words – Unconditional Surrender – gave Americans a goal worthy of their valor and sacrifice in World War II, this phrase signals an objective so audacious, so far beyond what we have experienced in the past that it too will motivate us to heroic behavior. We’re going to have to push ourselves to our limits and beyond first to eliminate the Covid scourge and then to deal with those tawdry hallmarks of the past, and only the subsequent realization of Unconditional Actualization For All justifies such an effort.
It is a daunting challenge. To achieve Unconditional Actualization For All – to establish that as the legacy we leave for our kids and grandkids – today’s four American generations will have to reimagine how we can imbue our lives with purpose and worth. We will have to dedicate ourselves to the discovery and development of the talent with which we are each endowed – our inherent capacity for excellence – and to the application of that capability in the service of others and our home planet.
As Maslow made clear, actualization is the summit of human need and motivation. It is each and every person’s innate desire to experience their epitome of being by engaging in whatever activity challenges, inspires and fulfills them. Unconditional Actualization, therefore, is the individuation of those self-evident truths we hold dear. It achieves its unconditionality by guaranteeing every citizen’s access to the fullest and most rewarding expression of themselves. As the Founding Fathers put it more mellifluously, it is each person’s right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Further, to make its promise credible, Unconditional Actualization also signifies the universal satisfaction of every other need identified in Maslow’s hierarchy. Reaching the epitome of being human is possible only if every American also has their basic and psychological needs met. They must be able to put food on the table and a roof over their head and to enjoy a healthy and secure life. They must also feel that they are a full and equal member of American society and that they are recognized and respected for their value as a citizen. Those are preconditions for actualization, so this twenty-first century call to action also achieves unconditionality by eliminating any factor that could restrain or prevent every citizen from achieving them. It isn’t two words, but four. It isn’t Unconditional Actualization, but Unconditional Actualization For All.
To make that vision real, each and all of us must take on a new mission in 2021. Instead of hunkering down and hanging on – instead of trying to survive the pandemic and recession – we must commit ourselves to searching for jobs that enable us to reach for our personal epitome. We must devote ourselves to missions we consider meaningful and important because only that kind of experience opens us to fulfillment, and fulfillment is the essence of self-actualization. That state of being is something only humans can experience. No other species and certainly no machine – regardless of its intelligence – can be fulfilled. It is our defining attribute, and it is what grants us our nobility.
Nobility in America, however, will be unlike that in every other country where it currently exists or ever has. It will not be reserved for some small and select group of people. It will not be defined by hereditary or bestowed titles. And, it will not wear a crown. American nobility will be self-defined, self-achieved and self-celebrated.
By making the choice to work for Unconditional Actualization For All – by launching a campaign that creates a new normal where every human need of every single person is met on a planet that is healthy and well cared for – America will establish the first noble democracy in history. It will open a vibrant new age – The Neonaissance – as a time of fulfillment for all, an era when every man and woman is enabled, empowered and encouraged not to be simply who they are, but instead to become the best of which they are capable.
Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.