Græme Gordon, Executive Director, Praxity
Like most homes in ‘the West’, mine has central heating. It also has a multi-fuel stove in a true chimney. This is not so much to augment the central heating but to substitute for it, when the electricity or gas that are essential for my central heating fail.
Equally, on a really chilly night, lighting a wood fire in the stove gives a unique and almost primal warmth – the kind that truly comforts you, right through to your bones.
Well, those who know me are only too aware that, as a Scot, I hate spending money on unnecessary things when alternative and less expensive sources can be found.
To this end, after Christmas, I reduced our festive tree to what you could call its constituent parts for fuel. The branches, still with their needles, made excellent kindling. The trunk made good logs when it was sawn into lengths. And I often bring home parts of fallen trees that I find when walking my dog in the woods near home. When I have half a dozen or so, I reduce them to an appropriate size with my chainsaw and store them in my wood shed to dry out, ready for the next time I need them.
Well, this weekend was one on which I attacked the tree limbs that had accumulated over recent weeks. Out came the chainsaw and in less than an hour I had a good number of correctly-sized logs in my store. And I must admit that this was very satisfying, and got me wondering why.
Was this perhaps about my inner caveman supplying the needs of my family or tribe?
Now, although I’m neither the caveman type, nor even a ‘hunter-gatherer’ – I like my meat pre-butchered and flour pre-ground from a supermarket, and don’t much like camping – I feel there is something extremely satisfying to the psyche in meeting the needs of the key group that depends on you. Whether that’s your family, community or team.
All this thought about satisfying others’ needs sent my mind back to Abraham Maslow and how there can’t be many professionals that didn’t learn about his ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ at some point in their training.
I always liked that Maslow was interested in human potential, and how we fulfil that potential. His was a more positive theory of human behaviour and motivation, that focussed on what happened when things went right, not on what was wrong.
In cutting the logs, I was helping meet the basic needs of my family – the kind of fundamental needs, for warmth, shelter and food, that are the foundation of Maslow’s pyramid. And once basic needs are satisfied, people can move up the ‘Hierarchy’ and fulfil higher levels of growth. So, my satisfaction was not in having established some ‘he-man’ status (which is always questionable in my children’s eyes), but in enabling others to progress and grow.
This is as true of our work with our clients.
If we are to become their long-term professional advisors, they need to feel that we are fulfilling their needs to benefit them and their business, not our own reputation or revenue. They don’t need us for food and clothing, but they’ll need to feel secure and protected against threats if they are to grow and meet their full potential. That’s what we’re for, and it’s what we should demonstrate when we pitch our services to them.
We need to identify their real, fundamental needs and show how we will meet them. We’re not offering audits or tax plans, we’re offering financial security, protection from fraud and confidence to invest and grow.
If we can prove to them that we’ll take an interest in the health and wellbeing of their business, not just sell them services, then we’ll truly be fulfilling their needs and we can all move up Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy’.