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The Human Hierarchy Of Needs

game of life self reliant way self reliant weekly Feb 24, 2024
Benny Wills
Read time: 10 minutes


You don’t have a higher self.

Your higher self is you. Optimized.

Your higher self is the best version of you. 

You - Free from the clutches of life's four enemies.

  1. Doubt
  2. Indecision
  3. Discouragement
  4. Procrastination

The version of you that doesn’t get distracted or hung up on trifling annoyances. 

Liberated from vices, bad habits, unhealthy thoughts, limiting beliefs, toxic relationships, and so on.

The you who believes in yourself. 

You without fear. 

Life is a process of becoming. When you decide that it is.

If you want something to change, it may or may not.

If you need something to change, it will. 

Become your best version. Be your higher self.

A fully realized human being has maximized his or her time here. They are free from worry, regrets, internal strife, and neuroses. 

They see life as it is, not as what they wish it was.

They are the master and commander of their vessel. In both mind and body. 

They are happy. 

And happiness is the objective of the Game Of Life.

To have lived and lived well is the closest thing we have to winning the game. Since no one gets out alive.

“Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had? What one loses one loses; make no mistake about that. Live!"

- Henry James

But first:

Last week, I pivoted to let you know that registration is now open for The Self Reliant Way Sprint and Cohort. A 4-week intensive that starts in one month. Limited spots available, open to men and women.

Click Here for more information.

Now let's dive in.


The Game Of Life (Part 3)

In Part 1 of this series, I discussed:

  • Game Mechanics (Cause & Effect)

  • Game Objective (Happiness / A Well-Lived Life)

And in Part 2, I focused on the Scoring System—how to achieve the game’s objective. Which breaks down to success in 5 areas:

  1. Health

  2. Loving Relationships

  3. Meaningful Work

  4. Financial Freedom

  5. Spirituality

Today, I’m talking about the board. 

Before I get into it, a quick comment on why I’m writing this.

As I explained in Part 1, metaphors are essential for comprehension and data processing. Because metaphors guide our thoughts. They help us conceptualize ideas and information. By relating them to personal experiences and what we already know. For example, describing time as "flying" or "slipping away." These metaphors make the abstract concept of time more tangible and understandable.

Life can be compared to many things. For me, seeing it as a game gives my approach to life a structure to work within. 

Without order there is chaos. Every structure, once it’s built, requires maintenance. Without care and attention, things fall apart. 

Without order, without a plan, without commitment to growth, your life descends toward entropy. You must manage and maintain order in your life to avoid chaos.


The Game Board

We humans are a strange breed. Needs motivate us. But a satisfied need is no longer a need. Once it’s met, motivation disappears, and another need emerges.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is my template for this metaphor. It’s the best one I’ve come across.

This hierarchy provides a framework for understanding the journey of life. Each level (or zone for my purposes) represents a different stage of achievement and growth on the board.


Zone 1: Physiological Needs

Your first moves on the board are all about securing your most basic needs:

  • Oxygen

  • Food

  • Water

  • Shelter

  • Sleep

These needs are easily met. And when they’re not, nothing else matters. 

For instance, if you are hungry you need food. The hungrier you are, the more thoughts of food will dominate your mind. Until you eat, food is your sole priority. 

When basic needs are met, more nuanced and complex needs emerge. 


Zone 2: Safety Needs

Beyond basic survival, you need a healthy and accommodating environment. One that is safe and free from danger and violence. An environment that eliminates threats to your health and well-being. 

But be careful with comfort.

Everyone needs a certain amount of order and stability in their lives. But for most it becomes a life or death necessity. The player who is playing to win the game embraces and is even excited by new and mysterious things. 

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ordinary people are motivated by deficiencies and lack. Extraordinary people are motivated by a desire for growth and excellence.

To make progress on the board, you must be willing to take risks and challenge your comfort. Failures and mistakes are part of the game. They are opportunities to learn. A healthy, forward-thinking person understands this. Take them in stride. Ordinary people (non-players) avoid both at all costs. 

Comfort is important, but it is in discomfort that you grow.  To avoid discomfort is to avoid living.

The next aspect of safety is in financial matters. This is the section of the board where many get stuck. For life. They put the cart before the horse. They wish to bypass this level and skip to the upper ones. But that's nearly impossible. 

Financial stability is a prerequisite for future moves on the board. Money affords you options and opportunities. For most, money is the major conundrum in their lives. It becomes the focal point of their existence. When it’s really just a tool for survival.

Ideally, money is a reflection (effect) of your contribution and service (cause). Insecurity around money casts a dark cloud over many people’s lives. They neglect to tackle it head-on and shirk the skills required to generate it. A negative attitude toward money is like cancer of the mind.

Most people want to be rich, but they never experience it. Because they fail to define for themselves what being rich means. Frustration, bitterness and envy fester in their thoughts.

Remember, you are only ever competing with yourself.

Broke is a circumstance. Poor is a state of mind.

Money, love it or hate it, is required for mastery of the game. Securing enough of it is no small task. 

The problem is most people don't define what “enough” is. "Enough" varies from person to person. It depends completely on the individual and their self-determined wants and needs. Clarification is the key. 

Determine exactly how much money is enough. This will prove extremely helpful to you on your journey.

Consider the strain money can put on relationships. Marriages fall apart every day because of insecurity around money.

Of course, you don't have to be “rich” to establish important relationships (the next zone on the board). But once you clear Zone 1, financial safety should be your top priority. This is something I wish I had known sooner. 

In a perfect world, children would be taught entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs solve problems. Getting paid to solve problems is the most ethical and rewarding way to make money. It’s beautiful and symbiotic. 

As is, most children go through the public education system. Where their individual interests, skills and talents are neither nurtured nor encouraged. Instead, they learn how to be cogs in the societal machine. Public schools teach kids how to be employees rather than visionaries and innovators. It’s a crime against humanity. Both in terms of unrealized potential for the individual and for society at large. For those who will never experience the benefit of what could have been. 

Working a job that you don’t like limits you in every conceivable way. Again, the comfort earned from this trajectory is at the cost of one’s soul. Committing to a job that you dislike means your progression on the board stalls. In some cases (most cases) permanently. 

Settling for less than what you’re worth is a surefire way to not realize your potential.

"If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be unhappy for the rest of your lives. You'll be evading your own capacities, your own possibilities."

- Abraham Maslow

I met my wife when I was at a crossroads in life. 32 years old, unhappy, running on the treadmill of an expired dream. She wasn’t disappointed that I hadn’t cracked the financial aspect of the game yet. She believed in my potential. Which enabled my belief in myself. I got inspired to prove her right and decided to up my game. In a way, it was then that I first started playing.

We combined forces, aligned our goals and decided to build and grow together. Had I remained as I was, I wouldn’t be writing this newsletter. I would be more like a pinball bouncing around from one obstacle to another. Desperately trying to avoid falling into the hole at the bottom. 

The need for financial safety is only one tick above the need for food, water and shelter. You need money, or at least a game plan, to obtain it. Most of your other moves on the board will be rendered obsolete until you decide to embrace this variable head-on. 

The desire for financial freedom must become a need. And as important as anything else.

Make solving problems your vocation. Develop a passion for helping others. This will graduate you to the next zone on the game board. 


Zone 3: Love & Belongingness Needs

The focus now shifts to interpersonal relationships, social connections, networks and community. 

Many board games have a cooperative aspect. In this zone, you work together with other players to satisfy shared wants and needs. Loving and meaningful relationships are essential to our experience in the game. Playing alone is no fun. 

Like children, we need attention. We starve for it when we don’t get it. And we're all just grown-up children, after all.

We also long to be known and respected. Modern culture warps this desire. Society teaches people to demand and expect respect without earning it first. 

The truth is, you don’t deserve anything. You’re not owed or entitled to anything either.

This is why many people struggle with ineffective communication. They want their opinions and ideas to be heard and understood. And they’re frustrated when they're not. But many times people aren’t receptive to their ideas because they haven’t yet earned the right to be listened to.

“Be undeniable” is one of my major mantras. The more you excel in the game of life, the more people will want to listen to you. The more successful you are, the more curious they are. 

If you'd like to improve your communication skills, I can help you. 

(Check out my program, Free Your Speech: The Art Of Communication.)

While moving through this zone, it’s important to be selective with who you share your time and energy with. Anyone who doesn’t root for your success is unworthy of your attention. This includes your family.

Sadly, family members tend to be our harshest critics. And many people get stuck needing family approval. 

You must do what needs to be done to fulfill your needs, in spite of what certain family members might think.

As you move across the board, you must become impervious to the criticism of others. It’s a part of the game.

As you do this, the right people, your people, will appear. Like attracts like. And you need people. Friends, colleagues, a community and a network of support. All essential to your growth and momentum going forward. 

Building strong relationships enriches the game of life and contributes to overall well-being.

A savvy player finds happiness in helping others. Which makes them both selfish and unselfish. Their commitment to service is unselfish, but they get selfish pleasure from giving it. They are selfish in a selfless way, which is a benefit to all involved.


Zone 4: Esteem Needs

Once basic safety and love needs are met, there is a new zone to navigate. You’ll find there are fewer players here. Because most of society is too busy running circles around the first three. 

One of man’s paradoxes is that no matter how great the accomplishment, his feeling of satisfaction is fleeting.

Human beings need a carrot on a stick. At all times. 

As long as you want things and are motivated toward their achievement, you are vibrant and alive. A person who “wants for nothing” is usually lying to himself or herself. They do want something. But they've crafted a story to excuse themselves from the effort required to attain it. Some are afraid to want things out of fear of not getting them. Inaction is the assured path to failure.

In the game of life, you must not run out of wants. Desire yields excitement. Achievement yields joy. A stack of achievements (big and small) adds up to a life well lived. But the striving never stops. The player playing to win is always seeking, always exploring, and always living.

Until the game’s hourglass finally runs out. 

It’s in Zone 4 of the board that we begin testing the limits of what we’re capable of.

If you’re in this zone, you have already achieved more than most people ever will. You have money, success and love. So, new needs emerge. Such as utilizing your potential. Exploring your own limits. Testing the boundaries of your capabilities. Needs for recognition and respect emerge. A need to understand the unknown. The need to transcend what you have already accomplished. 


Zone 5: Self-Actualization

This is the hardest part of the game board to reach. The zone of self-actualization. Where your full potential is realized. Where peak maturity occurs. The culmination of your gameplay. 

It’s here where legacy is achieved. One that extends beyond your own life. 

Self-actualized people are autonomous and independent. They are creative and authentic. They are emotionally resilient. They have a positive outlook on life. And exhibit a strong sense of empathy, compassion and concern for the welfare of others.

They have played a great game, and they know it.

They have lived well, and they are happy.

I am not yet self-actualized. But I want to be. 

Registration is now open for The Self Reliant Way Sprint and Cohort. A 4-week intensive that starts in one month. Limited spots are available, open to men and women.

Click Here to learn everything you need to know about the program.

I want to help you win. 

If you’re interested in working with me, let’s talk.

Respond directly to this email.

Or message me on Telegram: @BennyWills

Or, book a call.

Until next time.

Much love,


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