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Scott Barry Kaufman

218: The New Science of Self-Actualization

This week’s conversation is with Scott Barry Kaufman, a humanistic psychologist exploring the depths of human potential.

He has taught courses on intelligence, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University, NYU, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.

In 2015, he was named one of “50 Groundbreaking Scientists who are changing the way we see the world” by Business Insider.

Scott was a previous guest on Finding Mastery (#078) where we spent time diving into his journey and what made him the man he is today.

I wanted to have him back on because he just published a new book titled, Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization… a bold reimagining of Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs–and new insights for realizing your full potential and living your most creative, fulfilled, and connected life.

And that’s what we discuss in this conversation.

If you’re not familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, definitely check it out.

The needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

The interesting thing with this conversation is the timing.

As Scott mentions, right now our focus is on more pressing needs at the potential sacrifice of realizing our full potential.

“Human development was always a two-step forward, one big step back dynamic. Instead of a trek up a mountain, to become fully human is actually more about having a healthy integration, operating as a whole person, as a whole unit.”

In This Episode:

  • Recapping his early days, being put in special education classes in school due to a hearing impairment
  • How that shaped him and kept him back until one teacher gave him the confidence to strive for more
  • Why he’s fascinated by “peak experiences”… those moments we feel a sense of oneness or connection with the rest of humanity
  • What can go wrong when the drive to transcend isn’t matched with sturdy principles
  • Human growth isn’t about some trek up a mountain, it’s about a having a healthy integration and overcoming setbacks
  • The core principles that guide his words, thoughts, and actions
  • What happens when we make peace with our inevitable death?
  • His takeaways from studying Maslow
  • The relationship between being and becoming
  • What he’s seeking: the integration of truth, beauty, and goodness
  • Maslow’s “B” values… why were they important?
  • The great silver lining he sees with the Coronavirus pandemic
  • Insights on the light verse dark triad

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