Personal Foundation: Getting Your Needs Met

      by Kevin MacDonald
This is the third article in the series I have been doing about personal foundation. If you are one of the many CMAA members who has utilized my services you may recognize this concept. For some people the concept of looking at our own needs may feel uncomfortable because, generally speaking, we don’t want to feel needy. That is precisely why it is important to get an understanding of your own needs. Most people reading this article have traveled by air and can recall the flight attendant’s instruction that if the cabin loses pressure an oxygen mask will drop down in front of you.   If you are traveling with a young child you are instructed to put the mask on yourself first. The point of this is that you want the child to live you need to be alive to be able to help.

In club management getting your needs met may not be the difference between life and death but it may be the difference between success and failure. It may mean the difference between doing the job and doing the job brilliantly. Managers and their people can serve their members without getting their own personal needs met but my experience is that it is not done with brilliance.

Imagine a scenario where you have been walking through a desert for 18 hours without water. The need for water is intense. That need could be so strong that it could drive you to do something that goes against your values in order to satisfy it. You might even steal to get it met. As you keep walking you come up to a hundred gallon container of cool clear water. You can have as much as you want. Once you drink what you need, a quart, two quarts, a gallon, you don’t need it anymore and you wouldn’t dream of stealing.

When I work with people on this issue I want them to understand the following things:

-That they have personal needs
-That they know what their needs are
-How they feel, sound, look and operate when these needs are met
-How they feel, sound, look and operate when these needs are not met
-How they can get their needs met

I help club managers to see some of the needs that are driving them. I have probably done this exercise with over 300 club managers and here are some of the needs that come up frequently. To be respected, to be recognized, to be appreciated, to be listened to, to be in control, to have independence, to have balance, to have security, to have prosperity, to do the right thing, to please others….

When the person I am working with selects four words out of about 200 that he or she feels are their core needs I help them to see what they look like when they get them met and what they look like when they don’t. The descriptions are very different. When we are getting our needs met we are strong, powerful, energetic, open, giving, inspirational, calm, confident and what we would like to think of as ourselves. When I get to read my clients’ descriptions of themselves back to them it is incredible. It is incredibly attractive. Attractive is a key word because in our lives we want to attract great things to us. Some want to attract money, others friendships or significant others or opportunities or that next job. We are attractive when we are being ourselves. We are attractive when we are getting our needs met.

When I read people their descriptions of what they are like when they are not getting their needs met they describe being small, quiet, reclusive, angry, aggressive, argumentative, depressed, victimized, whiny, closed off, defensive, lethargic, needy.  Try getting a job when this person shows up to represent you. I once had a man listen to his description of what he was like when he didn’t get his needs met and he said “Oh my God, you just described my ex-wife”.  Apparently he and his ex-wife looked very similar when they didn’t get their needs met.

A manager’s description can also look curiously like description he or she might give of their most challenging members. I once asked a management team that I was doing a retreat with to describe what they thought the needs of a typical member were. The four they came up with were to be served, to be recognized, to be informed and to be listened to. I asked them to think about how they were doing on getting these four needs met for their most difficult members. They admitted that they probably weren’t doing very well in satisfying any of those needs for those people.

When I help people see these things about themselves, then it is time to help them to get their needs met.

There are three things that you can do to get your needs met; two involve other people and one is all about you.

Establishing Boundaries

Like a fence around your back yard we need to establish boundaries so that people in our lives know clearly what is acceptable and unacceptable to us. I think as a young club manager I failed to establish some boundaries and this precipitated my needs being trampled on. If you have a need to be respected you may have some boundaries around what kind of language people use around you or the tone in which they speak to you or the way they approach you.

A Selfish Automatic Sprinkling System

If you run a golf course you will understand the following metaphor. At most golf courses the grass is watered automatically. It doesn’t have to be diseased or dying before it is watered, the watering comes automatically. Similarly, you can ask others to help you get your needs met, before you are parched and drying out. This example always makes me think of a marriage. When both partners know each others needs and are committed to helping the other get theirs met it is a pretty amazing relationship. If your partner or people in your life don’t know what you need, you can tell them. If you don’t know what your partner or people in you life need, you can ask them.

Raising Your Personal Standards

This one may seem obvious but if you want to be respected then be respectable. Look at your standards of performance, they way you treat people, the way you dress, talk, eat….
Look at your present standards and raise them significantly.

Many people go to work to get their needs met.  What do you think would be possible if you went to work with your needs already met?

Kevin MacDonald is the Coach for the CMAA.  Sign up for Kevin’s monthly Club Managers’ Coaching newsletter at:

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