Larry Mullins

March 6, 2010

Beyond the cults of self-improvement

Abraham Maslow has been unjustly blamed by some for fostering a “me generation” of ego-centered narcissism. Reasonable examination of Maslow’s ideas will show little correlation to the fads of “self-development” that are centered around ego-embellishment. These cults seem to form around gurus, or ultra-energetic motivators who leap upon a stage and assure their adoring flock that they, too, can be “great.” It is professed that if one can only become fearless enough, free enough, brilliant enough, and can visualize success vividly enough, one can find happiness. The facts of life do not support this notion.
The failure of the “ME” philosophy has now become as obvious as the insolvency of the Freudian “ethic.” Yet, in the face of our disillusioning role models, unhappy celebrities, and the continuous unraveling of the lives of rich and famous personalities, many aggressive would-be “achievers” persevere in worshiping the gods of power, narcissism, and fame — and to “keep score” with money and material possessions.
The new and everlasting philosophy of noble values, what Maslow called Being values or Metavalues, is different. It embraces full use of your powers along the lines of Integrity, Caring and Excellence. It is based upon the classic triad of values, Truth, Goodness and Beauty. In The MetaValues Breakthrough, I describe how Truth in action is observed as Integrity, Goodness in action as Caring, and Beauty in action as Excellence. Self-actualizers become conscious and passionate channels for these supreme values.

February 6, 2010

Is Christopher Hitchens Right? Does Religion Really Poison Everything?

With many preconceptions and reservations, I recently sat down to read Christopher Hitchens’s book: god is not Great … How Religion Poisons Everything. (He deliberately did not capitalize God.) What a provocative, nasty title, I thought. Obviously this was yet another mean-spirited rant by an atheist.

I did not find what I expected. In fact, after reading his introduction to the book, I actually acquired some affection for Hitchens. Unfortunately, he did fail to define religion. (My dictionary offers six different definitions.) He thus was able to lump numerous straw men (formal religious dogma that few people really believe) together with a few serious questions that are asked and investigated by religionists. This shotgun approach permitted him to lament a host of religious evils and excesses that no sane mortal supports, while attempting a mass annihilation of every aspect of human belief in a higher power.
The bottom line seems to be that Hitchens does not believe that religion is a legitimate discipline. Much as did Ayn Rand, he seems to hold that the questions asked by theologians and philosophers can be more effectively answered by science.
Were it not for one endearing passage in the introduction to his book, these logic-tight barriers would render hopeless the rational joining of an issue about higher universe realities with Hitchens. When all seemed beyond redemption, he embraced MetaValues. He did so in a profound and moving way. Hitchens told the story of the funeral of his father. It took place in a historic chapel in England, overlooking Portsmouth. Hitchens spoke from the pulpit and gave a reading from the Bible. Quoting Paul, he said:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Then Hitchens explained why he selected this passage:
“I chose this because of its haunting and elusive character, which will be with me at the last hour, for its essentially secular injunction, and because it shone out from the wasteland of rant and complaint and nonsense and bullying which surrounds it.”
For precisely the same reasons, I chose this passage from Hitchens’s own wasteland of rant, etc. Yet perhaps the most important questions to answer are these: Why does this passage shine out for both an atheist and a believer? How is it that people of radically different persuasions and cultures share the same MetaValues of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness? Wrapped up in the answer to these questions is perhaps the twentieth century’s most important scientific discovery about the nature of human beings.
Abraham Maslow believed that values should not be the exclusive domain of religionists. He advocated a science of values. Yet he also grasped that MetaValues transcend the disciplines of science, theology, and philosophy. Unlike Rand or Hitchens, Maslow understood that science does not have all the answers. Science can tell us much about material reality, or what is. Science can even suggest possibilities, what could be. But the poet or the religionist offers a vision for us of what ought to be. And science without values builds bigger bombs and more efficient gas chambers. Dr. Maslow fought hard to break down the barriers between science and religion:
“I [have] pointed out that both orthodox science and orthodox religion have been institutionalized and frozen into a mutually excluding dichotomy. This separation into Aristotelian a and not-a has been almost perfect … Every question, every answer, every method, every jurisdiction, every task has been assigned to either one or the other, with practically no overlaps. One consequence is that they are both pathologized, split into sickness, ripped apart into a crippled half-science and a crippled half-religion.”
Unfortunately, Maslow was never able to distill his ideas for mainstream readers; he wrote almost exclusively for his peers. The world is the poorer for this, because Maslow uncovered truths about the human condition that are tremendously uplifting and inspiring—and are easily within the understanding of nearly every person on the planet. With the publication of The MetaValues Breakthrough, nearly four decades after Maslow’s death, individuals at last have a program that shows them how to put these truths to work in their lives.
The MetaValues Breakthrough provides tested and proven techniques for capturing inspiring visions of things that ought to be and actualizing them into realities. True stories illustrate how ordinary people connected with Truth, Beauty, and Goodness and transformed their unfinished lives from meaningless—or even tragic—to magnificent and unforgettable. Regardless of your age or circumstances, you too can use MetaValues to elevate your life and the lives of those around you to another level.
Larry Mullins

January 4, 2010

Should Values be the Exclusive Domain of Religion?

From the Preface of The MetaValues Breakthrough:

Abraham Maslow believed that values should not be the exclusive domain of religionists. He advocated a science of values. Yet he also grasped that MetaValues transcend the disciplines of science, theology, and philosophy. Unlike Rand or Hitchens, Maslow understood that science does not have all the answers. Science can tell us much about material reality, or what is. Science can even suggest possibilities, what could be. But the poet or the religionist offers a vision for us of what ought to be. And science without values builds bigger bombs and more efficient gas chambers. Dr. Maslow fought hard to break down the barriers between science and religion:
“I [have] pointed out that both orthodox science and orthodox religion have been institutionalized and frozen into a mutually excluding dichotomy. This separation into Aristotelian a and not-a has been almost perfect … Every question, every answer, every method, every jurisdiction, every task has been assigned to either one or the other, with practically no overlaps. One consequence is that they are both pathologized, split into sickness, ripped apart into a crippled half-science and a crippled half-religion.”
Unfortunately, Maslow was never able to distill his ideas for mainstream readers; he wrote almost exclusively for his peers. The world is the poorer for this, because Maslow uncovered truths about the human condition that are tremendously uplifting and inspiring—and are easily within the understanding of nearly every person on the planet. With this book, nearly four decades after Maslow’s death, individuals at last have a program that shows them how to put these truths to work in their lives.

From Chapter Eight of The MetaValues Breakthrough:
Dr. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has now been around so long that it is a yawner for most students in Psychology 101. Although important progress has been made by many pioneers, the great new frontier of the human mind -the summit of the pyramid- has not yet been fully explored. There is no recognized science of values. And the vast majority of humankind still actualize only a small fraction of their potentials. The time has come to propose a new model of humankind that is based upon Maslow’s metamotivation theory- a model that better embraces the farther reaches of what a human being could become.

Larry Mullins

January 1, 2010

The Peak Experience and Self-Actualizing1

My personal journey began with a Peak Experience. However, I was to learn that such experiences may redirect lives, but they soon fade away. What is needed is a way of life in which the elusive process of self-actualization becomes an experience-able reality for the average person. I am now convinced that there are no super people who live at sustained peak levels of consciousness that are unattainable by the “ordinary” person. The MetaValues Breakthrough lifts the lid from human potential as never before. Virtually any normal person can access the inexhaustible power of MetaValues. Knowing how to do this, aspiring actualizers no longer need to be helpless victims of the volatile ebb and flow of human motivation. Even a meaningless life of stultifying boredom can be dramatically converted into a quest toward actualizing some personal mission—a worthy vision or dream—something that is not yet a material reality, but ought to be. The MetaValues Breakthrough is not a self-help book, but rather a MetaValues-help book. My premise is not that we can lift ourselves, but rather that we can be lifted.

November 28, 2009

The MetaValues® that will Change the World


The MetaValues® that will Change the World

 “The world is in a crisis of values.

And we are all called to leadership, all of us, to meet this challenge.

For the first time in the history of civilization, large numbers of us can choose to answer this call. To do this successfully, we must understand the power of the primary MetaValues that govern the universe: Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

Along with this limitless power comes boundless opportunities.

And also, the modulating inspiration and energy that will

ensure we use this power wisely.

 Because when our successes allures us towards arrogance,

Truth reminds us of our limitations.

 When our self-interest compresses our perception of reality,

Beauty reminds us of the richness and diversity of the world we live in.

 And when unbridled power corrupts and does injury,

Goodness cleanses and heals.

 For it is the MetaValues of Truth, Beauty and Goodness

that will energize us to lead with confidence and Love,

and will best serve as the touchstones

for our philosophies, our choices, and our actions.”



November 19, 2009


Mullins Lectures on Maslow's Lost Discovery

Mullins Lectures on Maslow's Lost Discovery

St. Augustine, Florida, November 10, 2009


Good morning.

Self-actualizing is the process of becoming more and more REAL. But, how do people actualize their potentials? How do they become self-actualizers? And what relevance does the self-actualizing process have today? These are the questions I will address with you this morning.

Abraham Maslow set the modern motivational movement into motion long before anyone heard of The Secret, or Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey. Maslow’s ideas about self-fulfillment, creativity, and well-being still influence not only psychology, but also modern health care, education, managerial theory, organizational development, and even theology.

But very few people, even highly educated people, understand the self-actualizing process. The common wisdom is that a self-actualizing individual is essentially a person devoted to some great cause, or mission. Something he or she deems larger than self. While this is true, it is only part of the story. Because this description would fit Adolph Hitler or Osama bin Ladin. There is another element to self-actualizing that very few people understand. Maslow called it his greatest finding. But it was brushed aside and is in danger of being lost. Abraham Maslow discovered that every self-actualizer he studied was passionately devoted to what he called Being values. I term them MetaValues.

I have two primary purposes today. First, I will revisit Maslow’s lost discovery about self-actualizing, and I hope to demonstrate why it is critically important to you and your future.

I have a second, equally important mission today. Experts in this field have long known that the vast majority of people only achieve about one-tenth of their potential. This is as true today as it was fifty years ago, when Abraham Maslow was predicting a revolution in human potential. I want you to take home this message. Even though any individual in this room is capable of becoming a self-actualizing person and could live a life of extraordinary meaning and purpose, the odds are one hundred to one against most people doing this. This is of personal concern, because that means if you are typical, you will likely achieve only ten percent of your potential. This issue is also of academic concern, because if we could measurably increase the number of self-actualizers in the world, we could set a new world-changing renaissance into motion.

You may be thinking right now, “I’m an exception. I’m one of the top one percent.” If you are thinking that, you are right. You are potentially one of the top one percent. That’s what Dr. Maslow believed, and so do I.
First, I want to make you aware of what the self-actualizing process is, and how an understanding of Being values is the most important knowledge and aspiring actualizer can acquire. Second, to raise your awareness of what this means to your future success and happiness, and how Being values could launch the revolution in human thought Maslow predicted. I should add that, even though civilization is at this moment in a serious crisis of values, in my judgment we are on the brink of the revolution and renaissance that Maslow predicted.


Briefly, self-actualization is about the endless process of becoming more real. Essentially, that process is one of reaching new levels of Being, of consciousness.

Now, I said a moment ago that very few people understand the self-actualizing process. I should qualify that remark with an example. Jim Collins wrote two smash best sellers for business people: Built to Last and Good to Great. Collins said this about the self-actualizing process:
“Maslow’s profound concept of self-actualization could generate a Copernican Revolution of work and society, catapulting us out of what future generations will look back on as the dark ages of management.”

Unfortunately, Jim Collins featured a company name Phillip Morris in both of his best sellers. Most of us would agree that Phillip Morris makes a product that damages the health of people, and may even kill them. Collins was confronted by some members of his staff who strongly believed this company was not a “great” company. But Collins concluded that the core values of a company did not matter so long as everyone was on board and agreed to them. This is exactly the opposite of what Abraham Maslow believed. In fact, Maslow asserted that such beliefs are toxic and dangerous.

That misunderstanding by a prominent leader is why I want you to embrace a paradigm shift. How many people in this room subscribe to the common belief that “My values are mine, and your values are yours?” When I talk to hard nosed business men I get about the same response. Most people think values are furniture for the mind. I want you to suspend disbelief for a few moments.


Not all values are born equal. In matters of taste, or social mores, values are not transcultural. However, MetaValues are transcultural. All normal minds share the same key MetaValues of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. These are the great classic values of Socrates and Plato. As you might imagine, this idea does not resonate with most businesspeople.

The problem is you can’t see, or measure or weigh values. Then, how can I say we share them? We can detect MetaValues when we see them in action. I ask businesspersons, and I now ask you three questions.

1. Would you hire someone who was untrustworthy? Whom you knew lied, lacked integrity and had no regard for truth? 2. Would you hire someone who had no concern for the quality of his work? Who simply did sloppy, error prone work? 3. Would you hire someone who was reckless in his dealings with others, who was uncaring, and abrasive with other people?
Of course, all things being equal, you would want to hire people who have integrity, whose work embraced excellence, and who cared about and respected other people. On this level MetaValues are better understood. When we see someone operating with integrity, we see Truth manifesting itself. When we see excellence of any kind, we see Beauty being manifested. And when we see Caring, we see Goodness in action.


I should backtrack here and note that Plato, after being long ignored, has again become more fashionable thanks to the discoveries of quantum physics. Plato believed that ideas such as truth, beauty and goodness were realities. We cannot see them, but he believed they existed independent of the material world. He even claimed these ideas existed in a reality superior to the physical world. Of course, this runs counter to what most people might think. But so does much of quantum Physics. Plato’s ideas were embraced by the father of the uncertainty principle, a pillar of quantum theory, Werner Heisenberg. He wrote in Across the Frontiers:

“I think that … modern physics has definitely decided for Plato. For the smallest pieces of matter are in fact not physical objects in the ordinary sense of the word; they are forms, structures—or in Plato’s sense—Ideas, which can be unambiguously spoken of only in the language of mathematics.”

If you are a deep thinker, you would ask the question: “How is it possible that we share these values?” Whether you are an Oxford scholar or a bush person in Australia, you honor and respect Truth. Likewise, you don’t need a sportscaster to tell you that you just saw a beautiful basketball shot, or a great chef to tell you that you just had and excellent meal. On some level, we all value and enjoy Beauty. And finally, we like to be around caring people. We all respect the value of Goodness.

We all have an intuitive reality response that protects us from the a priori assumptions of science, religion and philosophy. We all have an intuitive reality response that protects us from the a priori assumptions of science, religion and philosophy.

So grant me that on some level at least, there is a reasonable degree of intuitive evidence that we all share the MetaValues of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. These are the Being values that Abraham Maslow detected operating to an uncommon degree in self-actualizers. And this was the concept that Maslow called his most important finding, MetaValues (or what he designated as Being values.) Truth, Beauty and Goodness are Being values.

As I said, the concept of Being values has been neglected and is in danger of being lost. Being Values, or MetaValues are real. They are active agents, inner resources available to everyone. They change lives. They drive and inspire the top one percent of the world’s achievers, people Dr. Maslow designated as Self-Actualizers. MetaValues will one day lead to an explosion of human potential that will revolutionize the world we live in.

Once again, self-actualization is about the endless process of becoming more real. Essentially, that process is one of reaching new levels of Being, higher degrees of consciousness. Now the term Being is a key to a discussion of values. What do I mean by Being? What did Dr. Maslow mean when he said self-actualizers were driven by Being values?


St. Augustine nailed the explanation. He would ask his students, and I now ask you, “Would you rather have a precious pearl, or an ordinary field mouse.” After his students gave the obvious answer, St. Augustine would ask: “If you had to choose one, would you rather BE a precious pearl or an ordinary field mouse?” The answer changes. Why? Because nonbeing is fine for an object that has value, but it is an unthinkable condition for a human being. A field mouse at least has some degree of volition.

St. Augustine’s idea clarifies a massively important issue: The difference between what HAS value and what IS value. Human consciousness is value. It is Being value. MetaValue. Consciousness is an evolutionary miracle that we almost never discuss. Yet it is with us day and night. And Abraham Maslow’s greatest findings involved our ability to affect our personal evolution and to actualize higher and higher states of Being.

Maslow first emerged as a Freudian and a behaviorist and a college professor with a hundred and eighty IQ. In his early years he believed human behavior was a simply malleable product of its genes and its environment. Yet he went on to discover a new kind of person.

He began to change his mind about the nature of humankind when his wife had their first child. Observing this child Dr. Maslow became convinced that there is more to human behavior than could be explained by Freud or Watson.

He did not refute these ideas, but rather felt they were inadequate in scope. There was something deeper and more complex than materialist, reductionist ideas could explain.


The big insight that first signaled WHAT this something is came early in his career. Maslow was a teacher at Brooklyn College in the late thirties when his concept of self-actualizing was born. New York at that time was in a golden age of intellectual and academic riches. Great minds were migrating from Europe to the US to escape the Nazi menace. Young Maslow was thrilled to rub elbows with some of the greatest minds of his generation. Two of these genius minds stood out above all the others. One was Ruth Benedict, and the other was Max Wertheimer. Ruth Benedict was an anthropologist who wrote a ground-breaking work about the cultures of Native Americans long before it was politically correct to do so. Wertheimer was an esteemed European who help found the school of Gestalt psychology that saw the brain as a holistic mechanism capable a great leaps of conceptual thought.

So fascinating were these personalities that Maslow began making notes on them. Beyond intellectual achievements, there was an intangible essence of character that affected everything these two did. They had an uncommon degree of sensitivity to others, they operated with uncompromising integrity, and they had a passionate devotion to a mission greater than self. With all this they each had a childlike openness and embraced new, creative ideas. They focused their egos on problems, not personal issues or gain. They simply did not act like most people act.

Maslow studied the differences between the two, noting that one was a woman who achieved her Ph.D. relatively late in life after a traumatic, lonely childhood and a difficult marriage. The other was a man trained as a musician and lawyer before discovering his driving passion. She grew up in America. He grew up in battle-torn Europe.

Then the pivotal insight came. Maslow looked down at his descriptions of Benedict and Wertheimer and realized that he was not looking at lists of the qualities of two people. Instead, he was looking at a description of a kind of person. The two were different in many ways, raised in different environments, but what was most notable was what united them. Each laughed with gusto, lived on the verge of reckless abandon, and embraced life. Could it be that this is what a human being is actually supposed to be? Maslow wondered. Why are these two people able to reach such levels of excellence? Are there others?

This line of thinking ran straight up against Maslow’s Freudian and behaviorist training. The schools of Freud and Skinner had virtually completely focused on sick people.


But what if doing so left a gaping hole in the understanding of human potential? What if there were more like Benedict and Wertheimer? What could one learn from a clinical study of these people? Would it be possible to discover the inner forces that drove the highest and best of humanity?
The new idea was electric and overwhelming in its implications. With rare exceptions, psychology and psychiatry had examined only the failed—or at least the foundering—specimens of humankind. But that evening in Brooklyn, Abraham Maslow uncovered evidence of a new kind of person: the self-actualizing individual. This discovery would launch an avocation to find more of the people who were somehow totally engaged in the process of making their latent and potential selves real.

Eventually Maslow’s quest to discover the secrets of self-actualizers would become a relentless, glorious obsession and it would set into motion a new school of psychology. Third Force psychology would challenge old-school ideas with the revolutionary concept of self-actualization. It would lead Maslow to discover significant evidence that concealed within every normal human being is the nucleus of a potential superior self. It was a genuine breakthrough.

Before we leave this issue, does everyone understand why this was such an important breakthrough? So two people each possessed the same list of 16 unusual and noble characteristics. So they came from totally different environments and inheritance factors. So what? How did this challenge the schools of behaviorism and Freudian psychology?

Briefly, once again, self-actualization is about the endless process of becoming more real. Essentially, that process is one of reaching new levels of Being, of consciousness. Now, I could give you a list of the characteristics of self-actualizers, but I want to dig deeper than that today. I want you to experience, to some degree, the concept of self-actualizing. When we discussed the reality of MetaValues, and the notion that we all recognize and share the values of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, that was more important than a list of qualities.


Today, in the brief time we have together, I want to discuss something else about self-actualizers that most of us have already experienced. It’s called the peak experience. Some psychologists call it flow. This is an elevated state of consciousness that seems to invade the psyche unexpectedly. Contrary to popular opinion, it does not come in moments of contemplation but rather it usually happens when we are stretching ourselves, striving for something, trying to reach another level. Athletes call it being in the zone. Everything seems to fall into place, we forget ourselves and we almost seem to be in another world.

But can what we think, and what we believe, really increase our ability to do? Is there evidence to support such a theory? There is. One of the most powerful validations of this idea is anecdotal, but highly significant.
The year was 1979. Garfield, an American Olympic weightlifting coach, had been lecturing in Milan. After his talks, he began to have conversations with a group of Soviet Union experts in athletic performance who contested many of Garfield’s training ideas. Several days of good-natured debate followed. During one of these late-night discussions, Garfield implied that the only reason the Russian Block athletes had achieved such astounding results in competition was that they used drugs. This accusation offended the Soviet experts. They insisted that Garfield accompany them to a gym, where they promised they would reveal their secrets of world-class performance.

It was very late, and the Soviets had to pull strings to get someone to open the training facility. Once inside, they carefully unpacked a host of impressive instruments and hooked Garfield up to them. Then they began to interview Garfield intensely, making computations, and taking notes. How often did Garfield work out with weights? Garfield replied that he had not done any important exercise for eight years. Back then, at his peak, he had bench-pressed 365 pounds. How much did Garfield think he could bench-press now? Garfield suggested that he might be able to do 300 pounds, certainly no more than that. How long did he think it would take him to work up to 365 pounds again? Garfield guessed it would take about nine months to a year to reach his old record.

Then, at the urging of the trainers, Garfield attempted a 300-pound bench-press. It was very difficult; he barely made the lift. Now the Soviets began to make calculations and measurements again, even taking a blood test. At last, they announced that they were ready to complete their demonstration.
Garfield sat upon a bench, still wired to the network of monitors. He was told to loosen up, to lie back, and to relax. The Soviet scientists talked him into drifting into a deeper and deeper state of relaxation. Although completely awake and alert, in time Garfield felt more at ease than he ever had in his life. The Soviets suggested his arms were growing warm and heavy. Garfield began to feel a remarkable tingle throughout his body. After forty minutes in a deep, meditative, receptive state, the trainers gently suggested that he sit up and contemplate the barbell before him. They had loaded it to 365 pounds––sixty-five pounds more than the weight he had barely lifted before!

“Imagine yourself approaching the bar with utter confidence,” a trainer whispered in his ear. “See yourself lying down and actually pressing the weight. In your mind you must feel the cold bar, the rough knurled area for gripping; hear the weights rattling; hear your own breathing.” The suggestion caused an immediate anxiety reaction from Garfield that sent the monitor readings into orbit. But the Soviet trainers were quietly confident. They continually assured him of his power. They urged him to see himself lifting the bar.

Their monologue began to crowd out and replace the Will-to-Fail conversation that had been going on in Garfield’s mind. They told him to zoom in and out of the positive visual images that were playing in his mind; to view himself from above, from the side; to see his hands up close. Repeatedly, they went through the visualization process, asking him to imagine how his muscles would feel when he completed the lift. Garfield wrote about the astounding transformation that began to take place:
“Surprisingly, everything began to come together for me … The imagery now imprinted in my mind began to guide my physical movements. Slowly and patiently, their voices sure yet gentle, the Soviets led me through the lift. I became convinced I could do it. The world around me seemed to fade, giving way to self-confidence, belief in myself, and then to deliberate action.”

When the Soviet experts saw that Garfield had reached the moment of peak physical and mental resonance, they quickly unhooked him from the equipment. Garfield moved in, positioned himself, and promptly lifted the weight.

Charles Garfield never forgot the experience. He began to develop new ideas about the possibilities of what he termed Peak Performance and to apply them to American Olympic athletes, with impressive results. He began to write books and give lectures on the untapped potential of all Americans, not just athletes. He saw a definite overlap between the work of the Russian and American psychologists, especially Abraham Maslow. Garfield wrote:
“There is now not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that the Soviets have long been aware of the work of the American psychologist Abraham Maslow and of his exploration of what he called ‘peak experiences’ and the emotional foundations that accompany such moments.”

Self-actualizers have peak experiences much more often than other people. While some people fear them, self-actualizers actually embrace them. What I am talking about has nothing to do with substance use. The peak experience is a natural state of mind that almost becomes a way of life for the self-actualizer. Peak experiences have been known to change lives. In fact, it was a peak experience that set Abraham Maslow off in his quest to discover the secrets of self-actualizing.


Abraham Maslow was driving home from his work at Brooklyn College when he found his progress arrested by the motley procession. Not only was it blocking traffic, it wasn’t even much of a parade. In fact, it was pathetic. There were Boy Scouts marching out of step and overweight, middle-aged men in out-of-date uniforms. The American flag had seen better days. And the band consisted of some poor soul playing a flute off-key.

The thirty-three-year-old professor was troubled on that fateful day in December of 1941. The Japanese had recently attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was suddenly at war. Moreover, shortly after the Pearl Harbor disaster, Adolf Hitler had declared war on America. A brooding uncertainty about the future had cast a shadow over the country.

While Maslow watched the tiny parade, something remarkable took place. As he sat there in his car, he was conscious of a growing empathy for the people marching past him, seeking to demonstrate their patriotism. Maslow felt tears begin to run down his face. For some inexplicable reason, he was deeply moved. Then, suddenly, Maslow had a vision of a peace table. Around the table were seated influential people, and they were discussing issues concerning human nature, hatred, and war—as well as the need for peace and brotherhood.

Maslow was having a peak experience. A seemingly trivial event had triggered a vision that would irrevocably alter his life and determine everything he did from that moment on. He realized he now had a lifetime mission, a personal ought-to-be. He would devote himself to discovering a psychology for the peace table. He would strive to prove that human beings are capable of something grander than war, prejudice, and hatred.
Abraham Maslow concluded in those pivotal moments that to achieve his sweeping ought-to-be, he would need to create a new science–a science of values. He decided to challenge the notion that values are the exclusive domain of religionists and visionaries. Maslow was convinced that a science of values could study and explore religion, poetry, and art. He decided that he would strive to understand great people, the best specimens of humankind. He would later write about this peak experience incident and how it inspired the desire in him to study the highest and best achievers. Maslow was determined to discover the secret of their strength and power. That became his mission, his cause … his commitment to something larger and more important than himself.


The peak experience often changes the course of a human life. For example, consider the little-known experience of Buckminster Fuller. Few know that the renowned inventor of the geodesic dome nearly committed suicide as a young man.

“Bucky” Fuller, born in 1895, gained fame as an architect, engineer, futurist, cartographer, writer, and poet. During the ’20s, he coined the term Spaceship Earth, and was the first to write of the problems of a closed-system planet. In 1969, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, most people have forgotten what is probably his most astounding achievement. This lost achievement is the MetaValues insight he had as a young man that saved him from suicide and propelled him on a fast track to world fame and accomplishment.

In 1927, Fuller was an abject failure, penniless and without hope. He and his wife were living in Chicago in a one-room apartment on Belmont Avenue. For five years, the Fullers had been grieving the tragic loss of their first child. The child had suffered through bouts with infantile paralysis, flu, spinal meningitis, and pneumonia. After her long ordeal and struggle, on her fourth birthday, she breathed her final breath. It was a crushing, devastating loss. Fuller buried himself in a flurry of activity. He assisted his architect father-in-law in creating a company based upon a new building material. Fuller organized four factories around the country to produce the new product. He worked at a manic pace, but the pain of his lost child would not go away. The minute Fuller got through work for the day, he went off to drink all night. His new enterprise tanked. He felt disgraced; several investors had lost money on the project. Just as he was hitting bottom, a new daughter was born to the Fullers, Allegra. Am I an utter failure? Fuller asked himself. If so, I had better get myself out of the way, so at least my wife and baby can be taken care of by my family.

On this fateful night, Fuller made his way to Lincoln Park, right on the shores of Lake Michigan. He knew the park well. At night, he would run through the park and spend hours lamenting his fate. Tonight he had a special plan in mind. He would hurl himself into the water and end his life. Standing at the shoreline, something made him hesitate. Now, in what he thought would be the last few moments of his life, he began to ask questions from the depths of his soul. He suddenly realized that all his life he had taken advice from others; he had never trusted his own mind. He wondered what importance a small, impoverished man with a remaining life expectancy of only ten more years could have anyway. (Fuller was thirty-two and the life expectancy of those born in 1895 was only forty-two.) The big corporations and powerful governments seemed unable to solve the planet’s problems. So, what significance could he possibly have?

From somewhere within, answers began to come to Fuller. The individual can take initiatives without anyone’s permission, he thought. Then he said something astonishing to himself:

“You do not have the right to eliminate yourself, you do not belong to you. You belong to the universe. The significance of you will forever remain obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your significance if you apply yourself to converting all your experience to the highest advantage of others.”

These transforming words startled Fuller. The strangely worded sentence could have but one meaning. He was to convert his entire life experience to one of service. He vowed from that moment to live—but to live in an entirely new way. Never again would he live only for himself. He would use his unfinished life to serve humankind. He also vowed to do his own thinking instead of trying to accommodate everyone else’s opinions, credos, and theories. He determined to use all of his powers toward solving the problems that affect everyone aboard planet Earth. He concluded that if he forgot himself and worked only for all humanity, he would be doing what nature wanted him to do and that nature would support him in this.

Buckminster Fuller left the park and returned home a transformed man. His was the path of service, the conversion of all experience toward the benefit of others.

Over the next fifty-four years (well beyond his life expectancy), Buckminster Fuller went on to blaze a career of unparalleled achievements. He would author twenty-eight books and receive forty-seven honorary doctorates in the arts, science, engineering, and the humanities. Fuller would be awarded dozens of major architectural and design awards including the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects and the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He would acquire twenty-eight U.S. patents for his inventions. Bucky kept his vow and committed his entire productivity to the whole planet Earth and its resources, undertaking to protect and advance all life forms. He often stated that he found greater effectiveness in his work when devoting it entirely to the service of others.


There can be no doubt, civilization as we know it in crisis.

But the real crisis is not about energy, or economics or terrorism. These are only symptoms. The real crisis is one of values.

The truth is that there are too many people running things who are immature, narcissistic, and impoverished of noble values. We do not need more energy resources as much as we need more men and women to step up and respond to the call for mature leadership. The world simply does not have enough leaders who embrace the MetaValues of Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

Not only do we lack enough mature political leaders, but we lack mature leadership in all phases of human activity. We have plenty of ferocious, aggressive, homo sapiens males in leadership roles, and more waiting in line, aspiring to lead. But we have very few leaders who are of noble character, integrity, caring and excellence. These are the MetaValues that are destined to unite us and save civilization.

Great leaders are aware that, when unbridled power leads us toward arrogance, Truth reminds us of our limitations. When power narrows the perspective of our concerns, Beauty reminds us of the richness and diversity of our existence. When power corrupts and damage is done to the innocent, Goodness cleanses and heals. For it is Love, the composite of the MetaValues of Truth, Beauty and Goodness that must serve as the touchstone to guide our judgments and actions.

The facts are virtually self-evident. If we had enough MetaValue-driven leaders, the crisis of trust in our institutions would soon fade away. The revolution of productivity and genius that Abraham Maslow predicted many years ago is at hand … a revolution that is benign and gentle, and yet powerful beyond measure. New leaders will arise, who will expend the energy and make the sacrifices necessary to help free the world from those personalities who have too long exploited the helpless masses and drenched the planet in innocent blood.

Are you one of these new leaders? If not you, then who?

Thank you for the time we spent together today.

August 3, 2009

Book Publishing will Never Be the Same

How David Hancock is Helping Authors Get Published
While Re-Inventing the Book Publishing Industry

When a group of street performers observed the declining customer appeal of the circus, they re-invented it. In less than twenty years Cirque du Soleil achieved a level of revenue that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey took more than a hundred years to achieve.

In a similar way, Walt Disney had a bad experience when he took his daughters to a carnival, and he created Disneyland. Disney revenues and stock began to soar. Walt Disney did not improve the carnival, he revolutionized it. David Hancock had negative experiences becoming a published author a few years ago. This triggered much the same creative process, resulting in a new publishing company that is quietly and dramatically transforming the publishing industry.
While major publishers are foundering, closing divisions and canceling titles, David Hancock’s fledgling company, Morgan James Publishing, enjoyed a 52% increase in sales last year. Morgan James is still one of the fastest growing publishing companies in America.

How did David Hancock do it?
David had studied the cutting edge techniques of the top marketing experts and applied them to a successful mortgage banking career. He then wrote two excellent marketing books. “Publishing a book helped me double my bottom line in less than eight months, and I enjoyed the positive reinforcement that came from my book helping other people. But the traditional publishing process was a terrible experience.” David then self-published and distributed a third book. This experience was not encouraging. The self-published book lacked the prestige of a recognized imprint.
Hancock became convinced that the world needed a new kind of publishing company. He decided to create it himself. His vision was as daring and revolutionary as that of Walt Disney and Cirque du Soleil. With a slight twist. David added what may seem to some a Quixotic vision, one of service. He wanted a publishing company that put the author first. When David Hancock founded Morgan James Publishing in 2003 the odds against success appeared formidable. The industry was not robust, and David’s experience as a publisher was limited to a single book.
Unconventional from the beginning, David and his wife, Susan, named his new company after their two children, Morgan Renee and Ethan James. Much in the manner of Disney and the Cirque du Soleil team, David began developing a business plan by identifying the industry’s costly sacred cows and then chasing them off the reservation. First, the traditional publishing model of the expensive long-run printing of titles was discarded in favor of a blend of printing technologies with short runs to cover demand with print on demand as a back up strategy. Market demand would dictate quantities of each title. Morgan James became the first high-volume title publisher with Ingram Publisher Services and Lightning Source, a finely tuned print and distribution combination owned by the Ingram Book Group. In one stroke, Hancock addressed production problems and achieved distribution venues. Eventually, his sensitive management of book store relationships would result in returns of less than 25%, compared to the industry average of 50%.
This was clearly an innovative approach to the economics of publishing. But David Hancock had insight into something more—something that the publishing industry, and many other industries, have too often neglected. Like Disney and the Cirque du Soleil team, he realized that successful business models have dimensions beyond pure economics. Disneyland and Cirque du Soleil passionately focus upon serving customers with extraordinary creative products of value-enhanced significance. David appreciated that publishers’ most important assets are the creators of their books—their authors.
Hancock’s new model would cultivate talented authors, both known and unheralded, with uncommon consideration and respect. Morgan James would become the world’s first Entrepreneurial Publisher™. The old school patron-clerk relationship between publisher and author was discarded. In its place, a collaborative entrepreneurial team would be formed to develop each publishing project. The author would be consulted and in the loop during the entire publishing process, including the design of the cover and interior of the publication. This was virtually unheard of.
And there is yet another dimension to the Morgan James’ Entrepreneurial Publisher® model. David understood that it is self-evident that a publishing business model would not work unless it could sell an appropriate number of books. David was aware that all successful marketing and advertising theories turn on this principle: Nothing happens until a sale is made. Mainstream publishers today are unwilling to risk large budgets to market books. Unless authors happen to be celebrities, they will find it necessary to market their own books. A few years ago this involved considerable time, expense and arduous grunt-work. That obsolete model was pre-internet.
Today a savvy author has access to Amazon and a host of other internet options to interface with prospective readers and sell books. But few authors have the sophisticated knowledge necessary to make the internet work with maximum efficiency in their behalf. As internet guru Mark Joyner (a Morgan James author) might express it, authors had the will and the internet gave them the means, but they lacked the knowledge. Hancock decided upon another breakthrough solution. He would put the tools of the internet at his authors’ disposal and teach them how to use them.
Here David had distinct advantages. He could draw upon his extensive study of the proven principles of marketing, especially those state-of-the-art techniques that involve the internet. He could use his precious connections with the best internet teachers and make their products available to his authors. Suddenly it became possible for talented unknowns as well as top authors to interface with untold numbers of readers in cyberspace for little or virtually no cost.
The result was electric. Authors have generally proven to be better than publishers at marketing their books. And the publishing world will never be the same.
How to Win Friends and Help Authors Sell Books
I had the good fortune to see David’s philosophy operate in real time recently in Phoenix. I attended a three day seminar featuring internet guru Armand Morin. Several Morgan James authors were in attendance, courtesy of the Morgan James Author 101 University marketing program. David attended the seminar, and I found him to be remarkably accessible and gracious. So much so that my fascination about self-actualizing personalities kicked in. I wanted to know what drove David’s passion to help authors. Fortunately, I learned more during several brief encounters with David over the three-day period.
In one particular instance, David and I sat down together for an informal chat in the hospitality center of the hotel. We were soon joined by several authors. In this circle of eager writers, David patiently listened as one after another discussed his or her book and unfolded their goals and visions. During a lull I asked David to reveal his secret for working successfully with authors, he replied: “I try to catch their dream.” Indeed, one must watch David in action to appreciate the significance and depth of this, his own passion.
I came to realize that perhaps what I was observing was an example of servant leadership. I know some will sniff at this remark and even regard it as corny. But those who are not embarrassed by this concept will find the next few paragraphs of particular interest.

The Remarkable Power of Organizational Values
I believe it is the company’s core values that make Morgan James a different kind of organization. I am not referring to a list of principles in some formal document, unread and gathering dust in an executive’s credenza. They are values that are more lived than formally stated. They begin with David Hancock and they permeate the entire Morgan James organization … operations and production, sales; and relationships with associates, vendors, authors, and the general public.
First is the pragmatic core value of excellence. From a material perspective, the operational essentials of profitability and well-crafted products are basic. The company focuses on four book categories: Business, Self Help, Inspirational, and Health. Morgan James is very selective about the quality of what it publishes. The prevailing principle is that the company will not publish anything that David would not feel comfortable showing his children. Appropriate content, character, and family values are weighed to determine whether an author’s work makes it. And making the team is not a lark. Over four thousand five hundred manuscript proposals are submitted annually, and an average of 163 survive the cut.
Once accepted, however, an author experiences a second essential core value: integrity. Trust is cultivated and fostered. What David Hancock promises, he delivers. What the organization says it will do, it does. Author relations are funneled through a single individual, and responses to inquiries are swift and reasonable. An entrepreneurial and marketing training program kicks in. Authors retain rights to their intellectual property, and books stay in print. Royalties are generally larger than those common in the publishing industry. There are a host of other benefits, such as group health insurance, that are too numerous to list here. The bottom line is that authors are made to feel valued as important assets, as part of a family.

There is a third core value that should not be overlooked: caring and mutually beneficial relationships. On the practical side, strong relationships with authors and vendors have resulted in authentic strategic advantages. Yet Morgan James goes beyond the pragmatic and embraces community responsibility. A percentage of the revenue of each book goes to Habitat for Humanity. The company places the Habitat for Humanity logo on the back and inside of its books. David appreciates the Habitat for Humanity’s life-changing work of helping low income families build homes they can afford to buy. Many Habitat for Humanity home dedications are visited by a large van with Habitat and Morgan James logos, featuring imprints and authors. New homeowners are gifted with a small library of books. David explains that these activities help his authors and raise public awareness of Habitat for Humanity’s work for the less advantaged.

The core values of integrity, excellence and caring—vibrant and in pragmatic balance—seem to form the essential foundation of Morgan James Publishing.
In the first five years, the Morgan James business model moved from start-up to a 15 million dollar company. Many well-known writers have joined its author base, including Jay Conrad Levinson, Robyn Spizman, Rick Frishman, Mark Victor Hansen, Dr. Robert Anthony, and Tony Alessandra. Morgan James was ranked 44 on Fast Company’s “Fast 50” in 2006. David Hancock was a finalist in the Best Chairman category in the 2006 American Business Awards, hailed as “the business world’s own Oscars” by the New York Post.
Hancock has proven that the publishing industry was ready for his entrepreneurial author concept. The pubic is obviously hungry for his products. Of the future, he says: “Of course, we are watching, planning and positioning ourselves for this new economy, but we are optimistic in our continued growth and reach in the marketplace today and in years to come.”
One thing seems certain to me after meeting David Hancock. He is loving every moment of working with his authors and actualizing his mission to “catch their dream.”

July 28, 2009


Good day Anil. Let me preface my remarks with a disclaimer. I know Western thinkers generally embrace models such as Maslow’s pyramid. However, when discussing a model, such as the pyramid, we must keep in mind that it is an imaginary concept that we are imposing upon reality. It makes us more comfortable, but it does not really exist.

On the other hand, when discussing immensely complex issues such as human motivation it is helpful to have an idea what conceptual model of the human psyche a particular individual subscribes to. My understanding of one Eastern view is that the essence of a mortal (forgive the brevity and crudeness) could be viewed as concentric circles, with the spiritual essence of the individual in the center, and increasingly grosser levels of matter enveloping it. Freud used a different, more simplistic idea of the ID, the EGO and the SUPER EGO, with no concession to a spiritual component. Maslow himself was a professed atheist, yet he hinted at transcendent qualities in the mortal being, while insisting that such qualities as the highest values were somehow biological in nature. I find neither Maslow or Freud’s models satisfactory, in that they fail to explain transcendent qualities in mortals that appear to impinge upon the materialistic situational field, especially in critical moments. Maslow and Freud also fail to explain the continuity of consciousness that we all experience and sense to be valid. The Eastern model comes close to explaining both phenomenon, but still seemed to fall a bit short.

Victor Frankl offered a much more viable option than any of the three above, in my judgment. He explained his model at length in the book he wrote immediately after his concentration camp experience, “The Unconscious God.” Later this book was republished a few years ago as “Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning.” (Not to be confused with his “Man’s Search for Meaning.” They are very different.) Frankl believed in two spiritual components are essential parts of mortal being, two “irreducible essences.” One was very similar to the Eastern spiritual essence … the changeless, personal “I am” that is uniquely us, yet part of the ultimate whole. Yet, Frankl declared that this immortal essence “should not be a judge unto itself.” He suggested that a second spiritual essence, objective, impersonal, and transcendent was necessary to guide the mortal. In this way he brushed aside ethical “rules” and declared the second ultimate essence capable of operating infallibly to provide mortal guidance in the present. I found this hybrid model (that is dual components of spiritual influence, one personal and the other objective and impersonal) in only one other place, “The Urantia Book.” This huge and challenging tome claims to be a revelation that synthesizes science, religion and philosophy. I find many useful ideas in it.

With these caveats in mind, I will attempt to offer you a response to your questions.

QUESTION: 1. How does his theory explain Victor Frankl’s case who chose to live at the top of the Maslow’s pyramid even when his most basic needs were not being fulfilled in the Nazi concentration camps. Galileo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, were poor to the extent that their most basic needs were not being fulfilled when they produced some finest works in their fields contributions that can at least fit in the middle of the pyramid, if not at the highest levels. (By the way does he ever talk about the pyramid in his book. Some people say the concept of pyramid was added later)

Maslow’s model does not really explain instances of spiritual transcendence that makes possible virtual miracles of the human spirit. Unlike many people, I believe the self-actualizing process may engage on any level of the pyramid. I find the pyramid helpful in explaining immature behavior, but once we enter the self-actualizing process material cause and effect is less and less significant. The self-actualizer becomes lost in his or her quest. Ironically, we become more and more our real self as we become less and less concerned with its welfare. Maslow presented his pyramid about In 1943, in a paper that featured his Hierarchy of Human Needs. This would turn out to be the one piece of his work that nearly all his academic peers in psychology enthusiastically embraced. Yet, in my judgment, his later work was much more important.

QUESTION 2. Does a person shift to the next level of hierarchy when his needs in the current level get satisfied substantially or satisfied at least to the most basic level. In case it is substantial, what makes a human decide how much is substantial? How does he know that level has been achieved? Isn’t it something within him that decides it? If that is so how much control he wields in manipulating that feeling?

The different levels are defused, not clearly defined. Moreover, except for very basic needs, an individual does not consciously decide to move to another level. as one moves up the pyramid the “needs” become more like “urges.” If we are hungry, we clearly know it. But if we perceive we are not sufficiently respected, the urge is very subjective. How do we decide the situation of a lack of respect? It may be true, or it may be an immature feeling that is not justified. Therefore, we can hardly consciously decide that this emotional need has been satisfied in the manner a big hamburger satisfies our hunger. Indeed, it is “something in him” (as you say) that may enlighten his perspective of self-worth and appreciation. Virtually every distasteful thing a person does is when he strives to be loved and appreciated long after he should be striving to love and appreciate others.

QUESTION 3. Do we really need to go through these levels first hand or can we by pass them through our mental imagination?

In my judgment we cannot self-actualize in a vacuum. While it is possible to exercise integrity and excellence (truth and beauty) to some degree alone, it is very difficult to manifest goodness without a human relationship of some kind. Imagination is of immense importance to spiritual growth, but nothing can replace the reality of personal experience of human relationships. Personality relationships are ends in themselves, and transcend all other realities we can know as humans.

QUESTION 4. Don’t our actions often stem from the confluence of many needs–a
combination of needs from many levels?

Yes, I agree. And probably the most significant is the presence of a spiritual component in the mortal being.

QUESTION 5. Maslow’s theory tells us how most of us would respond in a certain situation but could we take “what people are likely to do in a certain situation” as “what they ought to be doing”? Our needs should be decided by what most of people may be doing at a certain level of human consciousness or should we see our needs in the context of a possible purpose we have been brought on earth?

In his later writings Dr. Maslow expressed the existence of two components that determine the behavior of self-actualizers. These remarkable human being are the flowers of humankind, only one percent of the population. The first component or attitude Maslow detected was the fact that all self-actualizers are committed to a mission (or purpose, as you describe it) larger and more important than self. The second component (which I call his lost discovery) was the self-actualizers passionate love for. and expression of, the MetaValues of truth, beauty and goodness, which in synthesis manifest as love. Self-actualizers become channels for the ultimate values and express them in their lives. Although Maslow believed MetaValues are biologically based, while I believe they come from our Creator.

I hope this is helpful.

Larry Mullins

July 26, 2009

Beyond the cults of self-improvement

Filed under: psychology,science,values — Tags: , , , , , , — LarryMullins @ 5:12 pm

Abraham Maslow has been unjustly blamed by some for fostering a “me generation” of ego-centered narcissism. Reasonable examination of Maslow’s ideas will show little correlation to the fads of “self-development” that are centered around ego-embellishment. These cults seem to form around gurus, or ultra-energetic motivators who leap upon a stage and assure their adoring flock that they, too, can be “great.” It is professed that if one can only become fearless enough, free enough, brilliant enough, and can visualize success vividly enough, one can find happiness. The facts of life do not support this notion.

The failure of the “ME” philosophy has now become as obvious as the insolvency of the Freudian “ethic.” Yet, in the face of our disillusioning role models, unhappy celebrities, and the continuous unraveling of the lives of rich and famous personalities, many aggressive would-be “achievers” persevere in worshiping the gods of power, narcissism, and fame — and to “keep score” with money and material possessions. See more at

July 23, 2009

The young want an optimistic message

The young people of this planet are ready for this message, this great new covenant of optimism—not bounded by traditional religion—yet unafraid to explore the realm of religious values, the domain of Meta-Values. When the youth hear the concept, their eyes kindle with hope, and with new energy and passion.
The time has come to offer the young, and those with young minds, a process of spiritual Self-Actualization that is accessible to anyone who seeks to unlock his or her inner potential—a process-design driven by an authentic Science of Values. Eventually, a study of Meta-Values will lead some of us, perhaps many of us, to a personal relationship with the source of Meta-Values. This source of Meta-Values is perhaps nothing less than the Highest Power in the Universe. See

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