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At the Good X Social Entrepreneurship conference this week, I met an old friend and I said to him, “You look so handsome today!” and gave him a big hug. First, he turned away and then he looked me in the eye and held my gaze and said, “I needed to hear that today.” I asked him what was going on and he told me that he had lost his job and he was feeling low. He was also feeling frazzled because he felt guilty about coming to the conference instead of looking for a job. He said my compliment reminded him that he was here now and he was making an intentional choice to tune into what he was doing.

I smiled feeling so darn good about myself. I love nourishing the souls of precious humans so of course, I was in my element. I had done my good deed for the day and I was humbled, yet delighted.

Fast forward to the end of the conference, his confidence level was high. He had his “mojo” back! He was in a creative space. He was energized by the interactions. He was challenged. He contributed. He had new ideas. He saw possibilities. He left that conference in a totally different headspace than when he came in.

His statement got me thinking about how we do not tune into what we need.

How often do you ask for what you need?

How weird would it have been if he walked up to me and said, “Iyabo, please pay me a compliment and reflect back to me what you see of me because I am feeling insecure.”

But should that be weird or should that be the new normal?

I got to thinking about how often I do not ask for what I need from others. And I bet you do not either!

First of all, what is a need?

A need is defined as “require (something) because it is essential or very important” i.e. it is an essential requirement.

A requirement is something that fills a gap. It fills a hole. When we have needs, there is a hole there, a deficit.

Essential to what?

To life, not just breathing but the fullness of life.


I have needs that are essential to life? Other than food, air and water?

Yes. And you do too.

You need food, air, water, shelter and such things to function in life. But is life about functioning? Or is it about thriving?

There is a difference between being alive and being vibrantly alive or, as the Bible calls it, “the abundant life.” This is the essential life. This is the life you must live to make your mark on the planet.

The abundant life is vibrant. It is full and big. It is you being your best and contributing to the world in a significant way. Think of yourself humming and moving along. Yeah, that! Abundant life!

To get to this place, you have to know what you need. You have to meet your essential requirements to operate at a very high level.

And sometimes, that means:

  • Compliments.
  • Hugs.
  • Words of affirmation.
  • The love of others.
  • Community.
  • Safety.
  • Appreciation.
  • Thought partners.
  • Support.
  • Honesty

And a host of other things.

It means that you need input. Think of yourself like a bank account. You gotta put in to be able to withdraw from it. If you are not getting inputs that affirm you and celebrate you, then you will soon be depleted.

I have seen this over and over with clients. They go through a major life transition and they just try to pick right back up and act as if nothing happened. They lose a job, have a health challenge, go through a divorce, the death of a parent or some other major event and they do not process the gravity of the situation.

When life hits us hard, it is time to reach out to those around us and ask for what we “need.”

This is not “neediness,” that unhealthy grabby energy that says, “more, more, more!” No. This articulation of your needs comes from the place that says, “Hey, I am in relationship with you and we have a give and take situation and I am being vulnerable and letting you see that I need an input and I choose you to be the one to reflect to me what I need. This is going to strengthen our relationship.”

Yup! That place.

This week, my invitation to you is to ask for what you need. It is not egotistical to ask for what you need. There is a difference between being boastful and braggadocios and being humble enough to ask for what you essentially require as a need in order to thrive.

It is healthy to say:

  • I need a hug.
  • I need you to tell me I am not crazy.
  • I need to hear that I am beautiful, smart or good.
  • I need help.
  • I need your love.
  • I need to know that I am lovable.
  • I need food.
  • I need to be alone.

It is also important to determine what you need from society to thrive. This week, my second invitation to you is to articulate what it is that you do need from your community at large:

  • I need to live in a society where I feel safe.
  • I need to live in a society where I am accepted.
  • I need to live in a society where I can respect my leadership.
  • I need to live in a society where we can respectfully disagree.
  • I need to live in a society where I feel I have options.
  • I need to live in a society that values my life.
  • I need to live in a society where white lives are not valued over black and brown lives.
  • I need to live in a society where I feel safe in my female body.

You see, it takes the first invitation to have the strength and courage to articulate the second invitation.

Your life is valuable. Your life is so worth living. You are important and your needs and important and if you do not connect to what it is that you need at a core level to feel valuable and present, you will not feel that you have voice to speak to the larger society about what it is that you need.

For me, I need to be productive and know I am on the right track with my work. I need to know my work is valuable and relevant and actually helps people. I need to know that I am leaving this world a better place than I found it by being kind and reminding people of the great potential and possibilities that they are capable of. I need that. It nourishes my soul.

What about you, my precious reader?

Hit return and tell me what you need reflected back to you this week?

Tell me how it goes when you take a risk and ask for what you want!

You are so worth it!


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I am committed to the success of all peoples. I actively work towards the equitable thriving of all human beings regardless of race, ethnicity, physical ability, sex, gender or national status. I offer a sliding scale for single parents, active-duty military, veterans, military spouses, the long-term unemployed, refugees and the formerly incarcerated.

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