Sunday, July 24, 2016

Maslow Don't Ride

I write a lot about human motivation on this particular blog. Usually it's in a circumspect way. Sometimes I get more direct. Here lately, I've had a run of days off the bike. I can give no particular reason, except that it sometimes happens to all of us: a little dip in motivation.

One of the most well-known theories of human motivation comes from a guy whose last name you might know. Maslow. First name: Abraham. He came up with this:
Diagram of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Is it all coming back to you now? From your psych 101 class maybe? Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The pyramid shaped diagram represents what Maslow proposed to be the most basic needs at the bottom. Things like air, water, and food live there.

Just up from that is "safety" where shelter, etc. live. At higher levels, the needs are more abstract. The idea is that to "level up" on the pyramid, you have to first fulfill needs at the lower level(s).

Luckily, it's dead wrong. I ended my motivation drought today with 35 glorious miles on the hottest day of the year so far. It was, in a (compound) word, self-actualizing.

It is clear to me that Abe never rode a bike. I mean, the basic needs are solid. We need air for tires. Water for bottles. And food to make the bike go.

But after that, let's face it, the bike is an express ticket to the top of the chart. With a few gestures toward safety, most of us cyclists plot daring exploits that incur wrath from our fellow humans (mostly the ones in pickup trucks). Those bits of shiny styrofoam strapped to our heads invite as much scorn as they afford protection. 

And should we talk "esteem?" How about a triple shot of humilty? Endurance sports: where self care and self abuse meet!

But let me tell you...a few pedal strokes in, wind in your face, zipping along in a group or out alone on a lonely country road? Actualized. Oh yeah.

Just like that, I'm a cyclist again. Confident. Back on track. No need to build from the bottom of Abe's Hierarchy. Just needed to mount up and ride to the top.

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