Being Human: 101

Human Developmental Needs

Healthy tribes are are bound together by trust, along with complementary values, interests, competencies, interests, goals and resources.

Humans as Social Creatures

Humans as Trusting Creatures

Humans as Tribal Creatures

What Came First: Words or Emotions?

The Power of Purpose

Hierarchies of Competency

Hierarchies of Values

Norms, Laws and Rights

  1. Breath (Maslow Level 1, or “ML1”)
  2. Eat (ML 1)
  3. Sleep (ML 1)
  4. Move (ML 2)
  5. Think (ML 1–5)
  6. Talk (ML 3–5)
  7. Associate (ML 3–5)
  8. Create (and procreate) (ML 2–5)
  9. Learn (ML 4–5)
  10. Own the things we create or trade them for things owned by others (ML 4–5)
  11. Defend our rights. (ML 1–5)

Rights versus Needs

Executive Summary

  • Sapiens’ socially evolved brain helped them team up to find food and defend themselves, better satisfying the lower-level Needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy as a group.
  • Our ancestors found security, self-esteem and opportunity in trust. They learned that if they didn’t trust, there was no way they could organize as a tribe and take advantage of each person’s individual talents and thrive.
  • Words became one of our earliest super tools.
  • Emotions initially helped us with basic survival, and as the Need for belonging became more and more important, emotions became more sophisticated (e.g., shame versus guilt) and helped us evolve.
  • A sense of purpose not only bound tribes more tightly together, it also drove their actions.
  • Hierarchies of competencies allowed Sapiens to build larger tribes, working together to make life better. Competencies included leadership and team-building skills, getting others to help so they could focus on bigger / better opportunities.
  • Values made it easier for humans to work together. As the size of the tribes grew, values helped hold them together.
  • Values turned into norms. Norms became laws and regulations, with penalties associated with their violation.
  • Healthy tribes (i.e., organizations) are led by people who not only respect our values and need to matter (i.e., have purpose), the fact that we are bound together by complementary interests, talents and goals, but possess the ability to think longer term, so that the tribes and their people are capable of making life better for themselves and those around them.




Mark Abbott, founder and visionary at, is a sought-after business leader, writer and executive team coach. Follow him at

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Mark Abbott

Mark Abbott

Mark Abbott, founder and visionary at, is a sought-after business leader, writer and executive team coach. Follow him at

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