On 20 June, International Women’s Networking Group Rotterdam joined forces with Venture Cafe, Rotterdam Partners, Leiden-Delft-Erasmus, and Madam Rotterdam to host a break out session at Venture Cafe’s International Talent Night.

This month’s workshop was hosted by Mohamed Ittidar of Robbins Madanes School of Coaching. He focuses on helping expats achieve their full potential in regards to both personal and professional fulfillment. But in order to maximize our potential, we need to understand our needs.

Mohamed Ittidar speaks about quality versus safe problems at Venture Cafe in Rotterdam

Two Types of Problems

There are two types of problems, Mohamed tells the group: safe problems and quality problems. Safe problems, such as anger or procrastination, are usually a result of inaction. Quality problems, like career and finance, are more like personal challenges that we want to act on.

Maybe it feels pointless to apply for jobs, and so you stop trying or put off updating your CV. Or maybe you know you don’t want to be stuck in the same job forever, and so you push yourself harder to advance your career. Regardless of what the problem is and whether we choose to act on it, they all stem from the fear of not being enough.

On 20 June, Mohamed Ittidar spoke at Venture Cafe in Rotterdam about our needs as humans

Taking Action: Mohamed’s Needs of Personality

To combat that fear, Mohamed suggests we need to understand our needs in the framework of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. But in Mohamed’s approach, it’s not so much a hierarchy – it’s more like a web or a circle. While we all have the same needs, but the minimum threshold for satisfaction is different for each person.

Certainty: Like a combination of Maslow’s physiological and safety needs, we require a sense of certainty in our daily lives. We need to know that we have a roof over our heads and have a routine established.

Uncertainty: Likewise, we also need a degree of spontaneity in our lives. Whether it’s attending a networking event, going to a new restaurant, or visiting a new country, we don’t want to be bored!

Significance: Similar to Maslow’s self-esteem need, Mohamed describes this as the need to feel valued. We need to know that other people want or need us, in either a professional or personal capacity.

Connection/Love: Beyond feeling valued, we need to have emotional connections with other people. This can include intimate relationships as well as strong friendships.

Because we all prioritize and satisfy these needs in different ways, Mohamed asked us to write down how we each take action on these needs, and choose two that are most important to us.

Some of us chose uncertainty and certainty as our greatest values, while others chose uncertainty and significance. One person satisfies her need for uncertainty through her work as a freelancer, while another struggles to satisfy her need for significance as she searches for employment.

At Venture Cafe in Rotterdam, Mohamed Ittidar speaks to a group of expats

Satisfaction: The Needs of the Spirit

After we discussed our priorities, Mohamed introduced two new needs: the need for growth and the need for contribution. He then asked us whether these two new needs change our priorities. Because while the needs of personality tend to create safe problems, the needs of the spirit lead to quality problems.

Once we start growing, the experience of that growth is what drives the need for it. And as we grow, we can contribute more to our communities, to our work, and to our own personal lives. We take pleasure in how growth and contribution helps us overcome quality problems. Satisfaction of all these needs help us thrive.

Thriving as an Expat

Sometimes we don’t believe that we are contributing to society in a meaningful way, and we’re stuck feeling that we are not good enough. And when we move to a new country, satisfying the needs of personality and spirit can be especially challenging.

And this is how Mohamed’s needs function less like a pyramid or hierarchy and more like a circle or web. If you have just arrived in Rotterdam with a company, your desire to feel valued is achieved by satisfying a need of certainty. Or if you have lived here for a while, maybe your need for spontaneity is connected to your need for connection with new people.

Whatever your needs may be, and however you prioritize them, IWNG Rotterdam looks forward to learning how to help you thrive!

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Sterling Schuyler
Sterling Schuyler moved to Rotterdam in June 2018 from Bavaria, Germany, but she is originally from the United States. As a result, she has restarted her career three times, and currently works as a freelance marketing consultant. Whether you want to know more about her professional development, have questions about her own struggles, or just want to grab a coffee, she’ll be happy to hear from you.

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