You may be familiar with American Psychologist, Abraham Maslow, who developed the theory of self-actualization. In Maslow’s studies, he identified the hierarchy of needs which include five fundamental elements needed in order to reach the stage of self-actualization. These five elements are physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. Maslow argues that an individual cannot be fulfilled in life unless all five elements are met, working from the bottom to the top.

Throughout life, we work towards acquiring these elements so that we can live a comfortable life. We immerse ourselves in various every day activities. One of the activities that plays a large role in our lives is work. Similarly, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be directly translated into our needs within our careers. Although we all have varying work schedules, we dedicate a great deal of time towards our jobs and the responsibilities they require. This is how the hierarchy of needs applies to our growth and happiness within the workplace.

 

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  1. Physiological Needs –Air, food, drink, shelter, sleep

At work, your physiological needs include the factors that make up the work environment such as a clean working space, work supplies, technology, etc. In order to carry out tasks efficiently, you first need to have the essential tools and assets readily available. A lack of physical comfort at work can result in distraction or failure to produce work that meets the expected standards.

 

  1. Safety Needs –Protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear

Making sure you feel safe from any harm, whether it is mental or physical, is a significant aspect in the quality of life at work. There are various factors that play part in ensuring safety in the workforce. These factors include a reasonable income, medical/dental insurance, accommodating benefits, and proper rules and regulations implemented by Human Resources. A lack of safety or a culture of fear can lead to work-related stress which can impose major consequences both inside and outside of work.

 

  1. Love and Belonging Needs –Friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships

One of the needs that could make or break your path to self-actualization at work is feeling support and a sense of belonging with people you work with. Teamwork, mentorship, and a sense of acceptance from co-workers largely affect how employees feel about the company. It is important for you to feel like you are a valuable asset to the team, and to feel that you are making a contribution towards end goals. Without the support from fellow co-workers, one can feel insignificant, isolated, and alone.

 

  1. Esteem Needs –Achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others

Esteem needs go hand in hand with love and belongingness needs. Feeling that your work matters and is recognized by others plays a large role in how you feel about yourself. Mastering concepts and becoming an expert at what you do builds esteem. In addition, the way you present yourself at work is imperative in gaining the trust and respect from your surrounding peers. It is also essential towards your own personal growth within a company.

 

  1. Self-Actualization Needs –Realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences

Realizing your full potential by seeing your path and where it can lead you is the ultimate goal in any work experience. Learning how and where you can apply your skills and knowledge greatly impacts the future you see yourself having. Self-Actualization within your career can result in peak experiences that make you a better employee and member of society.

 

All work experiences are a significant learning experience towards the person that you want to become and where you want to succeed. Once we achieve the fifth level of Self-Actualization, our needs are met to enable us to pursue the career of your dreams. Where are you now? How can you push yourself to reach the next level?

 

Tweet us your thoughts on how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs applies to your career at @degreed. You just learned about psychology and personal development, track what you learned on your Degreed profile.

 

You can find Lindsey on Twitter and LinkedIn

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Let’s be honest, our best learning experiences often occur when we’re not thinking about the fact that we’re learning. When we find ourselves laughing out loud, or captivated by a story or image, our sense of being entertained usually trumps our recognition that we’re being educated.

Many quality examples of this “edutainment” are offered online, but finding them can be tricky. So we’ve done the hard work for you and scoured the web for our favorite recent blogs, podcasts and videos that excel in their ability to amuse as well as inform. Here’s our top five:

John Oliver Explains Patent Law

Unless you’re an inventor or an attorney, you probably know very little about U.S. patent law. Luckily, we have a hilarious British talk show host to explain it to us. Oliver’s opening rant against “patent trolls” is priceless, especially his commentary on a bizarre new dance patented by a feline artist. If you liked this, you’ll probably also get a kick out of Oliver’s coverage of U.S. chicken farming.

 

99% Invisible. Episode 161: Show of Force

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This podcast tells the story of a crazy idea hatched by two U.S. soldiers serving during WWII. Their plan involved the recruitment of young designers and artists into the army to create a deception unit, aka Ghost Army, which consisted of inflatable rubber tanks, fake artillery, pre-recorded battle sounds, and other illusory equipment. 99% Invisible once again delivers a story you won’t forget.

 

10 Amazing Bets that You’ll Always Win

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In this latest video from Richard Wiseman (a former magician who’s now a renowned Psychology professor) we learn the secrets behind ten tricks you can use to astonish your friends. This is just one of many videos Wiseman has produced to illustrate his research on the psychology of luck, illusion, humor, and deception. Check out Wiseman’s “59 Seconds” YouTube channel where he offers nearly 30 proven life-changing ideas in less than a minute each.

 

Misconceptions about Caffeine

As usual, Mental Floss has proven that several of my basic assumptions were wrong. Using scientific research to back up its claims, this video sets the record straight about both the positive and negative effects of caffeine. Who knew that an 8oz coffee can pack in twice the amount of caffeine as an 8oz Red Bull? You can also learn a thing or two from this Mental Floss video which discusses misconceptions about the weather. Spoiler Alert: Counting the seconds between when you see and hear thunder probably isn’t giving you the information you think it is.

 

The Key to Becoming a Creative Genius

If you’re not familiar with James Altucher, this podcast is a great place to start. The best-selling author’s quirky views on business and personal growth always challenge and inspire. If you like this podcast, be sure to check out his blog, Altucher Confidential. You can even ask Altucher any question you want on his site and if he finds it interesting he’ll devote an entire podcast to answering it!

 

You just learned about patent law, history, psychology, health, and leadership. Track it all and get credit on your Degreed profile. You can find Jedd McFatter on Twitter. Tweet us your favorite Edutainment pieces at @degreed

The future belongs to those who can generate the best ideas. Plain and simple.

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In a highly competitive world where employment is unstable and currencies are declining, unexpected events can quickly derail our dreams and drain our bank accounts.

Because money can always run out. Ideas, on the other hand, are limitless. If we ever find that our backs are up against the wall, those of us who are able to come up with new ideas will be the ones who bounce back strong.

But there’s no reason to wait for a crisis. The ability to generate ideas will always create opportunities to build wealth and find success, by freeing us from our total reliance on others’ (often bad) ideas, and by allowing us to also help others break free. If we want to be the kind of innovators who consistently produce great ideas, we need to start today by embracing a new mindset and approach that weaves the process of idea creation into our everyday lives. The good news is that this process is often a fun and exhilarating experience.

The days of waiting around for some mythical “Aha!” moment are over. Now’s the time to reach out and switch on your own lightbulb. Here are some habits and techniques to get you started.

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Habits

● Read deeply and widely. Branch out and study subjects you’re not familiar with. Engage with all the different forms of media and always take time to reflect on the information you’re absorbing. You’ll need a lot of raw data to work with if you’re trying to generate exceptional ideas.

● Look for patterns and trends. Learn to connect the dots. Hone your ability to see the relationships between elements. Steve Jobs put it best in an interview with Wired Magazine when he said that “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something…they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

Ask more questions. Challenge more assumptions. Be the person who asks “what if” over and over. Sometimes we’re so focused on getting answers that we forget to ask the most worthwhile questions. Best-selling author Warren Berger explains the power of innovative questioning in his book A More Beautiful Question, and lays out a system to help us develop more productive inquiries. Check out this podcast interview for a brief overview of Berger’s ideas.

● Embed yourself in an environment (or create one) that’s conducive to creative thinking. Work and spend time with others that allow you to test out your thoughts, to think out loud without judgment. Constant worry about how others will receive your ideas stifles creativity. Build a network of friends and colleagues who understand that the incubation process for birthing great ideas requires patience, encouragement, and critical feedback. Science writer Steven Johnson brilliantly describes what an idea-inducing environment looks like in this famous hand-drawn animated video: Where Do Ideas Come From?

● Write down all of your ideas! Don’t let a single one slip through the cracks. Carry a notepad everywhere you go, or use an app on your phone to record ideas whenever they arise (I’m hooked on Simplenote and Mindly). Be sure to document all of the persistent problems or needs that you encounter, because many of your best ideas will come from trying to resolve your own concerns. Also keep an idea journal, paper or digital, where you can track your ideas and practice the techniques below.

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Techniques

● Study unexpected successes. Analyze businesses that achieved against all odds; trends that popped up out of nowhere and took the world by storm; high-demand products no one predicted would sell; sports teams that proved all the critics wrong. Identify the fundamental ideas and conditions that led to these successes, and then see how they can be applied to your own ideas and environment. Here’s a list of unexpected success stories you can start analyzing right away.

● Master metaphorical thinking. Learn how to use comparisons to express ideas and solve problems. Metaphors directly link unrelated things by evoking vivid images that help us see from a different perspective. Think about some metaphors we’re all familiar with: Time is money, Domino Effect, Lame Duck. These are well-known because they do such a great job of framing something unfamiliar in a way that expands conceptual understanding and inspires creative problem-solving.

Use singular brainstorming sessions to generate more original ideas. This means formulating ideas on your own before bringing them to a group, which will help you avoid the pitfalls that often come with group brainstorming, such as idea plagiarism and fixation, personality conflicts, and anchoring biases, among others. For more effective group sessions, try Brainwriting instead.

● Use the right brainstorming tool. With literally hundreds to choose from, finding the tool that best suits your goal is important. For instance, if your objective is to find peripheral ideas surrounding a central idea, you might consider using mind maps. If you need to come up with a lot of “outside the box” ideas as rapidly as possible, you should try a few lateral thinking techniques. If you want a basic, tried and true method that can be applied to anything, you can go old-school and implement James Webb Young’s 5-Step Technique (developed in 1939 but still remarkably effective).

Whenever I am trying to formulate ideas to improve an existing service or product, I like to use the SCAMPER tool to make sure I leave no stone unturned. When I’m looking for solutions to a hard-to-solve problem and feel stuck in narrow way of viewing the issue, I employ the Reverse Brainstorming technique.

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My advice is to start off experimenting with as many methods as you can. Eventually you’ll develop a knack for choosing the most fruitful approach.

For more brainstorming techniques, tools and tips, here are more lists and guides:

14 Brainstorming and Idea-Generating Techniques That Work (this list comes with a useful set of worksheets you can use).
James Altucher’s Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine
18 Best Idea Generation Techniques
13 Unusual Brainstorming Methods that Work
38 Tools for Getting More Ideas
How the most creative business people generate ideas
Where the World’s Most Innovative Companies Get Their Ideas
Idea Generation Techniques among Creative Professionals (list begins on pg. 5)
Ultimate Brainstorming (comes with a free workbook)
Mindtools Brainstorming Toolkits
Idea Generation Techniques booklet

 

You can catch Jedd McFatter on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

In today’s work environment, what you know isn’t nearly as important as how fast you can learn. With new technology emerging at an unprecedented pace, your job security depends upon the speed at which you can adapt and develop the skills your company needs to compete in the global marketplace. The good news is there are proven methods for accelerating your learning. Here are our tried techniques to get you started.

1. Increase Your Reading Speed

Well duh, you might be thinking. Reading faster would obviously accelerate anyone’s ability to learn. But as adults can we really expect to improve enough to notice a difference? According to one of the world’s leading experts on elite human performance, Tim Ferris, the answer is an emphatic YES! On his blog Ferris details how anyone can learn to read 300% faster in only 20 minutes by training their eyes to eliminate inefficient movements and avoid rereading. A few years ago I followed the method and was astonished by how much faster I began to read.

For a slightly different perspective on how to increase reading speed, check out Scott Young’s blog post from earlier this year. Being the voracious learner that he is, Young extensively researched the topic with a critical eye and concluded that training to speed-read is still worth the effort.

Several speed reading apps are also available if you do a lot of reading on a smartphone. I’ve tried nearly all of them, but the two that I’ve found most effective are ReadQuick ($9.99) and Acceleread (Free). If you use these tools as a part of your overall speed reading plan, you’ll see dramatics results in how quickly you can consume new information.

 

2. Focus on the First 20 Hours

Getting off to a good start is crucial for rapid skill acquisition. If you can push through the early stages of frustration that come with learning something new, you will usually hit your stride. In his book “The First 20 Hours,” entrepreneur Josh Kaufman provides a practical guide on how to navigate this beginning phase, and claims that you can learn the basics of any new skill in approximately 20 hours of deliberate, focused effort.

Kaufman does a great job explaining how to deconstruct a complex skill into smaller subskills that are more manageable. He urges the learner to attack the most important subskills first, using a practice regimen built around intense 15 to 20-minute study bursts. Do this 40 minutes a day for a month and you’ll pick up the fundamentals of any new skill. For more insight into these ideas, check out Kaufman’s popular TedTalk:

 

3. Optimize your Environment

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Another basic way to accelerate learning is to optimize your environment. This means turning off distractions and avoiding multitasking, which can be damaging to both your brain and your career. It means mastering your learning tools and making sure everything you need is within reach before you start a study session. It means paying attention to details like room temperature, lighting, and noise levels. It means tapping into your flow state as much as possible when you practice.

And that’s the ultimate goal, really. Getting into the flow. The sooner you get there the faster you will learn any skill.

Here’s a simple way to remember the 3 hacks you need to speed up your learning:

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As always, keep tracking everything you learn through your Degreed profile to give yourself a clear picture of all your skills and knowledge.

You can catch Jedd McFatter on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

Being only a few years removed from college, I have a lot of friends who are currently going through the process of graduating and choosing their next step in life. I also have a couple close friends who made that decision a few years ago and are now struggling with the fact that, in their view, they may have chosen unwisely. Charting a career course is difficult and confusing for almost everyone. As often as not, asking the right questions is as difficult as finding the right answers (if not more so).

Most of us have some idea that career success comes from some combination of ability (What am I good at?), passion (What do I love doing?), and pay (How can I make the most money?). In my experience the most pivotal is ability. Passion and money are great, but if you want to know what career path will make you both happy and wealthy, you need to start by asking yourself “What am I really good at?” This may seem intuitive, but in my experience it is anything but. Indeed, I came to my own fork in the road a couple years ago, and came very close to making the wrong choice.

My Experience

In college, I studied communication sciences with the intention of becoming an audiologist. Audiology is a secure field with plenty of high-paying jobs. However, between my junior and senior year I had taken a summer job working in social strategy for a large fitness company. I immediately realized that I was good at it. As time went on, I started to realize that I was very good at it. I started to think I could make a career out of it.

But when I graduated, I seriously considered going back to get my masters in audiology and reverting back to that career path. It had been my plan all throughout college; could I really just abandon it? Especially for a career track in social media that, at the time, seemed like it might be a dead end. I asked one of my good friends what I should do and he gave me some great advice:

“Jeremy,” he said, “you have a gift for social. Don’t let that go to waste.”

Despite a number of concerns, I decided to continue in social media. Two years in, I view that decision as a financial, personal, and career success: My employer truly values my work, I’m enjoying it more than ever, and I’m making good money.

Ability Leads to Passion

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Choosing a career you are passionate about is very important. What I have found is that people who choose to do what they excel at are almost always the most passionate about their work.  The truth is that interests wax and wane. I know people who have dream jobs working for their favorite sports teams who sometimes get burned out on those interests for a little while. That’s something that happens to everyone. At those times, it can be very difficult to keep the passion alive.

The passion that comes from being good at your job is different than interest. It stems from being able to take pride in what you do, and from being frequently recognized. It comes from winning. We are biologically hard-wired to love winning. You don’t have to be successful for very long before you find yourself very passionate about that thing. I’ve noticed that my friends are much more likely to be passionate about basketball if they’re tall. I doubt that’s a coincidence. Think about your own passions. Are you particularly good or knowledgeable at those things that you are passionate about? You probably are.

How to find what you’re good at

Many people want to choose a career in an area where they excel, but have trouble figuring out what that is when it comes to actually choosing a career. I have found one question to be the most helpful in figuring that out. Ask yourself, “What is the most successful I have ever been in my life?” Look for particular accomplishments, not general abilities. A good answer would be “I won the spelling bee in 4th grade”, “I was elected student body president in high school” or “I was able to talk my friend down from committing suicide and help him turn around his life.” Bad answers would be “I’m a good studier” or “I’m a people person.”

After you have identified moments of accomplishment, try to think of ways that you could recreate similar circumstance in your work life. Too often, I see people thrashing around with their own self-image of who they are supposed to be, rather than objectively evaluating their past results. They get an idea in their head and it’s difficult to let go. For example, I have a friend who insisted that his greatest strength was his creativity. I asked him what led him to believe that and he was unable to name a significant creative idea or project that he had produced. You will be able to avoid this type of self-deception by finding concrete moments of accomplishment in your past.

In identifying your career options, past performance is the best indicator of future results that you have. If you can figure out what you have been good at, you will discover what you will be good at. And once you start down that path, you’ll be on your way toward more passion, more money, more recognition, and ultimately more happiness.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn, read it here. Check out Jeremy Nef on Twitter or LinkedIn

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This week hundreds of thousands of college grads will toss their caps and throw the gowns into storage boxes as they head towards the next stage of life: True Adulthood. A much needed break from years of classes, late night studying, and exams is well-earned, but what happens when the weeks slip into months and learning has abruptly ended?

After graduating, I experienced a stage of what felt like a great loss. I stepped into the shoes of my new full-time gig, I was learning there, but I was missing the push of learning and studying. This lack of learning stage left me feeling sad, and bored. Eventually I felt mentally stuck.

Growing our personal skills and understanding after graduation shouldn’t be limited to the training and learning we do in our new jobs (if we receive an offer post-graduation). We should be poised to set and stick to personal goals to keep improving ourselves, even if the work doesn’t result in a grade or final exam. Here are some ideas on how to grow after graduation.

1. Set the schedule. As a graduate, you are forever free of 7am Geology class, but you’ll find the best use of your individual time if it’s structured. Figure out what time of the day you’re the most productive and focused. Set 30 minutes to 1 hour a day during that time that you can use to experience learning.

2. Learn something that may seem irrelevant. Here’s a crazy idea: having the freedom to literally learn about anything you want. Consider topics that may not help fuel your career right now. Study something that makes you excited. Remember the lecture in English that peaked your interest? Read more from that author. Study watercolor, search out a new coding or design skill (you can find tons of open courses online if you want more structured learning, get more info on that here).

3. Measure it and be accountable. It’s hard to be motivated to finish a goal if you’re not going to measure it. Gone are the days of finals, but all the learning you do should count for something. Sign up for degreed.com and start tracking what you know and what you’re learning. Set goals on the platform for weekly articles, videos, or books to keep you on track. Grab a friend and take a community class or start a book together- having someone else to keep you accountable will make habits stick.

4. Passion Projects. Find a way to apply your learning and integrate it with other passions. Designing a website, selling your product on Etsy, writing blog posts about the books you’re reading. Whatever activities you’re passionate about doing- apply what you’re learning to those. You’ll be excited to do it and it’ll help you retain what you’re learning.

Learning doesn’t have to stop after the graduation ceremony. There are many different ways to continue pursuing education post-graduation, the key is to tap into your desire to learn and fuel that desire in the right way.

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