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Meeting your ERG in a busy professional life

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We have all heard of Maslow’s hierarchy. This clever little “needs theory” is a most useful model for professional people seeking long-term success, to consider.  It has been recently been modified and simplified by Alderfer to create the three-tiered “ERG” theory.

It goes something like this.

We must all satisfy our basic Existence needs first. This is our need for food and water, sunlight, sleep, exercise and time alone to contemplate things. These things are important and yet all too easy to ignore in a busy life. Think what you have done so far today!

Once satisfied, we then must meet our need for satisfying Relationships, at work and at home. How important are they!  We can find it difficult in medicine to maintain a focus on relationships in our personal life, especially as medicine can be all-consuming at the expense of time with friends and loved ones.

So the theory goes, once these two layers of need are met, we can move on to satisfy our need for personal Growth. This is the level at which we excel and reach goals and fulfil our true potential.

Think about this for a moment… you know anyone in medicine who has come to work without breakfast, perhaps dehydrated, tired and physically deconditioned, sleep-deprived and vitamin D deficient from lack of exposure to sunlight?  Do you know anyone who does not have or has never had a satisfying and intimate relationship with someone or is estranged from their friends or family?  Do you know of colleagues whose relationships with people at work are superficial, strained or even troubled or dysfunctional? Do you know anyone who is working very long hours to achieve great things in their career, who is very engaged with study, research or committees but whose relationships at work and at home are stagnant or faltering and who is coming to work sleep deprived, deconditioned, dehydrated and vitamin D deficient?

Successful and sustainable doctors have something in common – the ability to meet their need for ERG!
Dr Roger Sexton

DHSA Medical Director, August 2017