Throughout my entire life, I have questioned how unique we are as individuals. On a fundamental level, I believe the world holds a small place for each of us that is impossible to replicate. The summation of our specific genes and circumstances makes each of us extraordinary and distinct. I’ve also had moments of connection, particularly while witnessing other cultures across the globe, that have had the opposite impact. Where I hold certainty that at a human level, we are all the same.  If I pull back from the desire to make one of these two perspectives correct, I can invite truth to both of them.

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Unleash the Power Within, a 5 day seminar led by Tony Robbins. Tony is closing in on his 40th year of coaching individuals and leading seminars focussed on guiding people to their peak potential. On a personal level, the immersion over 3 days was powerful and freeing. On a professional level, his principles are easy to understand. I will share insights from the event over the coming weeks.

Tony suggested a few things that helped me find the truth in each of my perspectives.

What is true for all of us?

We each have the same 6 needs, which Tony outlines further in his 2006 TED Talk that has been viewed nearly 20 million times.

The need for certainty
The need for variety of uncertainty
The need to feel significant
The need for connection and love
The need for growth
The need for contribution to others

Similarly, all human fear boils down to 2 basic fears.

I am not enough.
I will not be loved.

So what makes us each different?

We each look to achieve success through satisfying 1 to 2 core needs. The needs each of us prioritize are different. For men, their subconscious default is the need to feel significant. The distinction for women is less clear. In satisfying these needs, each of us turns to both negative and positive behavior. For example, if our primary need is feeling significant, we may become a successful CEO (positive action) or we may create violence to assert power over others (negative action).

Our ability to meet these needs becomes our definition of success. And yet, when our goals are achieved we can often feel empty. Why? Beyond the definition of success, fulfillment can only come from designing a life where the needs for growth and contribution lead our path. Anything that stands in front of these two needs will lead to achievement without fulfillment, which is our greatest human failure. Leading life with these two needs is the art of fulfillment.

The values each of us hold differ from one another as well. If you ask a room of 100 people what they value, a range of words will follow. Further, when any two individuals name the same value (safety for example) the definition of that word will differ. My definition of what it means to hold a value of safety is likely very different from someone else’s definition of safety.

There is a great power in understanding the needs prioritized by those around us, seeing them in the essence of our two basic fears, and recognizing the individual values of any person. With these three components, our core humanity and vast differences set the stage for empathy and building connection.