DECISION TIME ... Settle or Soar

“Did you know our friend Anne died from a systemic infection?”

The words stung and I could hardly believe what I heard. I could not breathe. Surely, I misunderstood. She’d been my dear friend for over 35 years. We’d spoken days earlier. Now, she was gone.

Several years ago I had conducted an online webinar. I didn’t even realize she was tuned in, but little did I know that she had watched the replay dozens of times.

Just weeks before her death, she called me in tears telling me how much it had helped her, but she had been “stuck” on one thing. “How on earth am I going to get my needs met in a healthy way? And stop allowing my unmet needs to cause me to give up my goals, sacrifice my dreams, and violate my values.”

I never expected that her struggle would be one that could perhaps be helpful to you in turning your life toward even greater things.

Over the past weeks, I’ve been sharing how each of us comes equipped at birth with a propeller that guides our lives. It works like the propeller on a plane or a boat. It can either propel us upward and forward or send us into tail spins and nose dives.

Since the early history in the field of psychology and even now in pop psychology (and certainly through media) we’re taught we are doomed with whatever we came equipped with. And there’s simply nothing to be done about it, when NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER THAN THE TRUTH.

Not only do you have the ability to maintain the direction of your life, you have the ability to control its direction. Practically and without exception.

No longer can we hold on to the following justifications and excuses:

  • It’s just how I am
  • I can’t help it
  • People can’t really change
  • My life is always going to be this way
  • I’ve tried EVERYTHING

When clients come to me for weight loss, they usually say:

“I can’t help it. It’s just in my genes.”

I correct them with: “It’s in your ‘jeans’, not your ‘genes.’”

Then I hear, “I just can’t help it …”

After going through their eating and exercise habits, I usually say:

“So you get chained to your recliner after work? And those potato chips jump up in your lap?”

Finally, 90% of the time I hear: “I’ve tried everything!” I get a rundown on what they’ve tried. Then I break the helplessness energy filling the room with: “I don’t think you’ve tried a 40 day fast!!” That always gets a laugh.

The truth is … the problem with every lingering challenge and repeated pattern is that we do not intervene at the propeller level. We might spray a little WD-40 here and there (a new weight loss pill, a new video to adjust our attitudes, etc). And they are all likely good things. But if you just cut the weeds down to ground level, the roots will produce another crop.

The same is true for anything that needs reversing, maintaining or accelerating in your life. Do the work at the propeller level and you will see transformation!

There are four blades on our life’s propeller:

1. Potential

2. Responses

3. Decisions

4. Beliefs

In week one, we looked at six qualities and characteristics you could develop in order to blow any lid of off of your limitless POTENTIAL. Last week, we looked at ways to delete triggers to knee jerk reactions and to craft RESPONSES that would catapult your fulfillment and success.

This week, we are looking at blade #3: DECISIONS. Specifically, we are looking at making quality decisions, which are based on our needs. Yes, all decisions are considered and made based on getting our needs met. Yes, unless you’ve done advanced brain training work, the underlying factor to every decision is our needs.

Perhaps you will agree with me that knowing what our needs are, that run ever so quietly, but as powerful as a tsunami undertow beneath every decision we make, is of crucial importance. These are the moment-to-moment decisions we make, as well as major life decisions, all dictating the direction of our lives. Should they go unmanaged just hoping they’ll all work out okay? Say it-NO!!!

Let me start with some “basics” about needs.

We all have four needs that must be fulfilled in order to survive. This is what they are, along with a brief description of them:


         The ability to avoid pain and to feel pleasure

         The ability to escape stress

         The ability to feel safe and secure


         The ability to escape boredom and the mundane

         The ability to feel challenged

         The ability to feel excited


         The ability to feel needed

         The ability to feel important

         The ability to feel unique


         The ability to feel intimacy

         The ability to connect, and feel wanted

         The ability to share

What makes us all different is the order of their importance in our lives and whether we get them met in healthy ways.

Here’s what you MUST KNOW and MANAGE about your needs in order to propel your life upward and onward to the great things you were born for:

A. The order of importance your needs fall in

B. How you get those needs met currently

C. Determining whether or not the way you get them met are healthy

D. How to manage keeping your survival needs met to move from surviving to thriving

A. The order of importance your needs fall in

Let’s jump in workshop style and find the order in which yours fall.

Ask yourself this question, if someone came to steal everything that met your needs for three months, which need would you long to have met the most? That is your #1 need. Do the same with the other three. Then the last two. You now know the priority yours fall in. And even if you are incorrect, it’s a great place to start.

B. How you get those needs met currently

But that’s only the beginning. You must also begin to look at how to get these needs met and whether or not they are met in healthy ways.

You have likely heard me say that 100% of us are at risk of the following things if our needs aren’t met in a healthy way:

  • Giving up on our goals
  • Sacrificing our dreams
  • Violating our values and beliefs

Let’s continue our workshop. List your four needs, then write five things you do to get each of those needs met (good, bad or ugly).

To get you started, I’ll give you a few examples from a young woman I worked with a few years back. Her most important need was security. She got her need for security met by:

  • Checking to insure all four doors were locked and bolted before going to bed at night.
  • Checking her outdoor security camera clips on her phone when she awakens at night (usually 3-4x).
  • Going back in (after loading her briefcase, lunch, and workout bag in her car) to check and make sure the stove and oven are off.
  • Keeping enough cash for 3 months living expenses (in an undisclosed location) in case the banking system ever crashes
  • Maintaining her LTC (license to carry a handgun) and keeping it current.

You would never know by associating with her that security is her #1 need. She appears confident, is a high level professional and a delightful young woman.

I told her that the ways she got them met were not necessarily “unhealthy”, but they certainly sapped a lot of time and energy. In addition, I told her to keep watch, because she was on the border of allowing her need for security to lead her to poor decisions.

I received a call from her a month or two back, needing an appointment. She started the session with: “I’m not sure I got what you said when we were working on how I get my need for security met. And I fell in a hole. I gave up my goals and sacrificed my dreams. Can you help me?” she asked as her lip quivered.

I learned that due to COVID, her position had been eliminated. She received a healthy severance and immediately began to search for a job. “Along with everyone else on the planet” she said. “Terrible, terrible timing!”

“I got a few interviews, but with lesser salaries and out of the area I am so passionate about.” Because her severance was running low (she had only used 20% of it, but that crossed the line of “security” for her) she accepted an average paying position in her former career area. She had left that career track because it was unfulfilling for her. “Tedious work with no opportunities to ‘touch mankind’.”

Now she was locked into a contract, bored to tears, and disappointed in herself. She had met her need for security in a way that caused her to sacrifice her dreams and give up her goals.

I bet you can relate. We’ve all done it at some point in our life. The sad thing is, that was a major life decision… but we do the same thing in small decisions daily that propel our lives into nosedives.

We were able to work on some healthy ways to get her need for security met, so she could make a plan to move back into her desired career path and realize her dreams.

How do you get your needs met? Your #1 need? Your second? Third? Fourth?

I have a little warning that could sound stereotypical. We are all individuals. However, men are often blind to how they get their needs for significance met and women are often blind to how they get their need for support and love met.

If you are courageous enough, ask a friend to help you. Or get a Coach. Or a mentor is a great person to assist you. Ask them to give you honest feed back on these questions:

  • When you see me needing _______ (name your need), what do you see me doing to get that need met?
  • Of all four of my needs, which do you see directing my decisions the most?
  • What unhealthy things do you see me doing to get my need met?
  • Have you seen me give up on my goals to get my needs met? Can you give me an example?
  • Have you seen me sacrifice my dreams to get my needs met? Can you give me an example?
  • Have you seen me violate my values and/or beliefs to get my needs met? Can you give me an example?

I was going over this material with a family recently. The dad said, “Oh, I would NEVER violate my values and/or beliefs to get my needs met!” I guess he saw my raised eyebrows and asked me if I thought he had. I chuckled, then suggested he ask me that again at another time. Sure enough, he asked when his preteen aged sons were not present. I told him that he had a strong value/belief about what online games they could play.

But when they no longer wanted to be home and wanted to go to other friend’s homes who had “cool dads”, I said, “You changed the rule. You got your need for significance met by violating your own value about violent online games.”

He asked me if he made the right decision. I asked him if he had violated his own value. Or, if he had just done more research and softened because those were two different things. He admitted he had sacrificed his value to meet his need for significance and be a “cool dad.”

C. Determining whether or not the way you get them met are healthy

The next question is this: “Are they healthy ways to get your needs met?” They are only healthy if they do not harm you and if they don’t harm others and if they move you forward in your life.

Let me also give you a head’s up: Ignoring them is not a healthy way to get them met.

I find it sad that in the current culture in our country, we tend to call people “needy” if they have a slight notable need. So many of us strive to become needless. Being needless is more dangerous to your future than being needy.

But there is a healthy balance. That healthy balance is knowing the order of importance of your needs and keeping them met in healthy ways. There are no trophies for being needless!

D. How to manage keeping your survival needs met to move from surviving to thriving

The four needs we have spoken of so far are the needs we each have to survive emotionally, mentally, spiritually. If those are met in healthy ways, we can move on to the needs that make us thrive.

However, you can move onto getting your three needs to thrive met, but if your first four survival needs are not met in healthy ways, you will only feel a moment of fulfillment. But, all the good that came from meeting your three needs to thrive are sucked up and absorbed by your four unmet survival needs.

I get asked often why doing “good deeds” or “serving” only feels good for a moment. I observe people wanting to extend that “moment of thriving” … so they do even greater things in the area of the three needs that make us thrive. Yet it becomes a hamster wheel experience. Doing more and more and never moving from surviving to thriving.

The answer is simply this: If you only feel “fulfilled for a moment,” your first four needs are not being met in a healthy way.

Let’s look at the three needs to meet in order to thrive:


         The ability to improve oneself

         The ability to learn new things

         The ability to reach one’s highest potential


         The ability to make a difference, make a contribution

         The ability to touch others

         The ability to influence the world/the next generation


         The ability to know there’s someone greater than oneself

         The ability to have faith

         The ability to seek guidance

Once you are getting your survival needs met in a healthy way, your decisions will be wise and productive. No more decision based on getting needs met.

Then you can dive into getting your needs to thrive met and you will find yourself soaring! You deserve to soar! You were born to do so!


I began this blog with the story of losing my friend Anne.

When she called me just weeks before her death to tell me how my webinar had touched her, she had told me she had been “stuck on one thing.” She shared how she had grown up in foster homes and never truly felt loved. In doing the exercise she heard on the webinar (what I’m writing about this week) she realized that the only way she ever received any kind of support and love as a child was when she was sick or injured.

As she was listening to the webinar, she realized that she had spent her whole life being sick and injured in order to get that need met. We were able to identify some ways to get the need for love met in a healthy manner and her life began propelling upward in a powerful direction.

However, what I learned after her death was that she had allowed the infection to get too far before we spoke. Her life was finally moving upward and onward, but the antibiotics could not overcome the infection.

When I spoke at her memorial service in South Texas, I wanted so badly to tell those people what I’m telling you. DO NOT LET YOUR SURVIVAL NEEDS GO UNMET OR GET MET IN UNHEALTHY WAYS! Instead, I spoke of her great influence on my life and what a great friend she had been to me.

My heart’s cry to you is … DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

When you learn to get your survival needs met in healthy ways, you remove the risks of giving up your goals, sacrificing your dreams, and violating your own values and beliefs. But not only that, it’s only when those are met that you can move onward into meeting your needs that cause you to thrive.

You were born to thrive. Your spouse, your family, your friends need for you to thrive. And they need for you to help them thrive. Will you do this for yourself and then pass it on? It’s the way you will leave mere surviving behind and move on to thriving!