What drives human behavior? There are a few schools of thought about what makes humans tick. I use Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Behavior to better understand why we humans do what we do, which includes five elements with multiple aspects in each element: physical survival, safety & security, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization.

We then juxtapose the five most widely applied behavioral, psychological, and sociological elements to define each of Maslow's areas. Our experience indicates that comprehending how elements multi-dimensionally drive and represent areas of human behavior in individuals, groups, and organizations is foundational to being clear about increasing and sustaining performance.

Each of Maslow's aspects is influenced by each behavioral influence. For example, the desire for peace - an aspect of Maslow's Safety & Security element - is influenced by each of the following elements and corresponding aspects.

Biological (Physical)

The nervous system
Genetic influences
Biological rhythms
Psychological (Emotional)

Simple theory of human behavior
Drives & motives
Social influences
Emotional aspects
Cognitive (Mental)

Mental representation
Practice (Skill Development & Non-Verbal Communication)

Influencing daily behavior
Body language & signals
Disorders (Behavioral & Cognitive Dysfunction)

Abnormal behavior
Split brain
Personality disorders
Alzheimer's Disease
While there is complexity in what drives us, there is also simplicity. The simply put is that we are driven by what's in it for us. Being aware of and possibly comprehending this behavioral complexity and simplicity opens gateways to increasing our effectiveness.

Take-Action Exercise 1 - Becoming More Aware of What Drives Humans

Become more aware of what drives humans. For 5-10 minutes per day, simply observe your behavior and that of others. Practice looking for one element (physical, emotional, mental, etc.) or a particular aspect within an element. For example, look for non-verbal communication, language preferences, learning styles, social influences, etc. and note possible meanings.

What builds your confidence and motivation? Generally put, as much as we humans like to put our best foot forward, animals are driven by what's in it for them. So, what builds our confidence is what is in it for us or our motivation.

For example, trying to look better than a friend or peers in general is part of this drive. If you look better, you feel better. If you feel better, you are able to acquire more of your basic needs.

With this simple understanding, it is much easier to learn about our self confidence: what we believe and know that we are capable of or our self-efficacy and esteem. Yet, how can we clarify what our basic needs are at any given point in our development cycle? In order to know what our intense motivation is, it can be helpful to use a focused exercise that builds upon the behavioral physical, emotional, and mental elements. Below is an exercise that we often use to support clients in learning more about what consciously and unconsciously motivates them.

Take-Action Exercise 2 - What Currently Motivates You

There is no right or wrong answer. The first answer that comes to mind may be a prominent motivation, so please don't censor yourself.

Biological (Physical)

What gives you goose bumps?
What family activities do you enjoy the most?
What is your preferred working rhythm?
Psychological (Emotional)

What type of things do you lose track of time doing?
What drives you: kindness, money, love, power, etc.?
What type of social influences motivates you?
What are your most and least preferred emotions? Why?
Cognitive (Mental)

When faced with adversity, what type of things motivates you to keep trying?
What childhood dreams would you still like to accomplish? Why?
What is your most cherished memory? Why?
What type of language do you enjoy?
What type of things do you feel intelligent doing?
When do you easily learn something important?

Author's Bio: 

Using a pragmatic approach to business and life, Deone Benninghoven, MSM is known as The Be-Clear Gal. She is a sought after coach, speaker, consultant, and author that facilitates the performance development of individuals, teams, and organizations using a strength-based and systemic approach. Her clients consistently indicate that Benninghoven's approach to change management is practical, useful, and sustainable. Individuals, and groups such as Microsoft, Accenture, Symbol Technologies, sovereign nations, local and regional municipalities, leave her Be-Clear keynotes with academically-sound and evidence-based information shared in a fun and easy-to-understand and apply format.

Benninghoven holds a BS and MSM from Antioch University Seattle in Organizational Design & Leadership Development and Management and lives in Seattle, WA. Believing that one step at a time the sculpture, dance, and song of life emerges, she is involved in multiple coaching and organizational-development associations, Toastmasters, the Seattle Writer's Guild, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, City of Seattle Youth Services, and sports, art, dance, and singing groups.

"Be clear on who you are and then be it" (Be True, Be Happy, Hanns-Oskar Porr).