How Human Needs Lead to Success or Failure

Do we understand human behavior?

Perhaps a better question is, “Do we understand our behavior?”

We have six basic human needs, but we can’t meet them adequately without self-awareness.

Without honest reflection, we won’t manage our emotions, find fulfillment, or reach our God-given potential.

Inner drivers help us thrive or fail.



The 6 Human Needs as per Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker, and author, introduced the 6 human needs in 2006 at the famous TED conference.

The top two needs you value will determine your direction. Which are your top two?

1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure

2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli

3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed

4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something

5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding

6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others


Human Needs Candidly Revealed Throughout the Bible

Reviewing Tony Robbin’s six human needs, I thought of specific Biblical characters throughout history.

Many consciously or unconsciously let these human needs affect their choices, some to succeed, others to fail.

Let’s look at some of these six drivers, how they positively or negatively influenced Biblical leaders, and what we can learn from these accounts.


1.  Certainty – God desires us to trust and follow Him.

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, wanted to avoid the pain of having no descendants. She was barren, so she took it upon herself to correct the problem. She gave her servant, Hagar, to her husband, so Abraham would have a son. Did this fill her human need? No, she despised Hagar.

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal, (Genesis 16:1 New Living Translation). 


2. Uncertainty/Variety – Faith helps us take risks amid uncertainty.

Nehemiah was the cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes. It was time to face the unknown and implement change.

As a Jewish leader, he led God’s people to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls against much threat and opposition. Fifty-two days later, they completed the wall.

We worked early and late, from sunrise to sunset. And half the men were always on guard. I also told everyone living outside the walls to stay in Jerusalem. That way they and their servants could help with guard duty at night and work during the day. During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water, (Nehemiah 4:21-23 NLT). 


3. Significance – Our heart’s posture should be to please God, not man.

Samuel anointed Saul as King of Israel to lead God’s people to victory against their enemies. However, Saul didn’t follow God’s instructions because it was more important to him to please people than God.

When Saul defeated the Amalekites, he didn’t destroy the Amalekite nation. He let his men keep the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, calves, and lambs. God raised another king.

Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded, (1 Samuel 15:24 NLT).


4. Connection/Love – We can’t put anything or anyone above God.

This human need led King David to murder one of his men, Uriah.

One night, he saw beautiful Bathsheba from his rooftop. He sent for her, got her pregnant, and planned the murder to cover his sin. Once Uriah was killed, David made Bathsheba his wife, but their son died.

And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die,” (2 Samuel 11:15 NLT).


5. Growth – Emotional, Intellectual, and Spiritual Development begin with honoring God.

King Solomon asked God for wisdom because he felt unprepared as a King. He wanted to lead God’s nation well and prayed for understanding between right and wrong.  As a result, King Solomon lived in safety, wealth, and great wisdom.

God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, (1 Kings 4:29-34 NLT). 


6. Contribution – We all have an opportunity to serve.

This is where your story is written.

How will you serve others in your business, ministry, and personal life?

Our generosity has a greater spiritual impact on our lives than others.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another, (1 Peter 4:10 NLT).



After thousands of years, we haven’t changed much.

Dysfunctional behaviors are often an indication that we aren’t positively meeting our human needs.

Awareness of these six human needs can help us grow.

They can provoke us to find significance by becoming better people.

The choice is ours.

Use it to your advantage to live healthier while giving God glory.


Stay resilient

Marisa Shadrick

Online Marketing Coach and Certified Copywriter

Click for Exclusive Benefits
Amplify Your Message
$29 per month!

Recent Podcast Episode

Recent Article Posts