Abraham Maslow is known for saying, “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”

This quote, as well as Maslow’s work, was dedicated to understanding why more people don’t self-actualize. He saw this idea of self-actualization as representing the “growth of an individual toward fulfillment of the highest needs; those for meaning in life.” Essentially, he recognized a hierarchical set of dichotomies within our lives that, as secured, set us up for success to find meaning and significance.

Although he pioneered this research in the 40s, we still struggle to maximize his work and actualize our individual potential. What we have realized is the more you can be intentionally you – a you with awareness of who you are, who you want to be, and how you can best start navigating that path – the better chance you have at actualizing the exceptional potential you were born with.

The esoteric ask of “actualizing your potential” or even being “intentionally you” begs for the action steps or guidance as we navigate our journey.

This five-part series will dive into the practices that will facilitate living aligned with the intentional you that you say you want to be:

Understand What Matters
Respect Yourself
Know Where You Thrive
Create Your Map
Invest in You



We rarely take time to reflect on the significant moments in our lives that have help to define who we are today. By doing so, we can start to evaluate themes, recognize success and growth, uncover our purpose, and potentially understand the development of limiting beliefs that impact our choices and behavior.

We all have values and they literally drive our behaviors, yet most of us cannot clearly articulate what our personal values are. Once we do, however, we will begin to understand how we make decisions, who we ask into our inner circle, and what organizations we will be successful at. And, once we understand our values, we can start to put them intentionally into action. They are pervasive in every aspect of our lives and permeate through every thought and action we have – in and out of work. This is why we define Values Based Leadership as “living, working, and leading in alignment with your core values to ignite the extraordinary potential in those around you.”

Just like we each have a preference for using a certain hand to write with or a preference for our favorite flavor ice cream, we each have a preference around we recharge, how we make decisions, and how we perceive the world. With the recognition that our preferences are just that, preferences, we also gain the understanding that we have the capacity to adapt. Even if we prefer to write with our dominate hand, we can write with our non-dominate hand  – it just takes more energy, more focus, and more practice. The same is true with our behavior and subsequent actions.

The first part of being intentionally you is actually figuring out who you have been!  It might mean taking a core values assessment (what actually drives my behavior?), a personality style assessment (why do I have a preference towards certain behaviors?), and answering the prompts below:

  • Identify the key events that have shaped your life. Jot them down in chronological order, in order of importance, or in whatever order you think of them. Journal the significance of each event and consider how they have impacted who you are today.
  • Examine your core values to understand what actually drives your behavior. Ask others if they see you acting in alignment with those values. Take a look at your timeline and identify where those core values have played a strong role.
  • Take a personality styles assessment and consider the strengths and weaknesses of having a preference for using energy that way. Are there opportunities to flex a different muscle?



Danielle Aaronson

Danielle Aaronson

Danielle’s mission is to inspire leaders to make intentional choices that move them to positive action. She speaks at conferences, management summits, and leadership programs as well as facilitates efforts with executives and senior leaders at organizations seeking to influence their culture. Her mantra, “be the change you wish to see in the world” has allowed her to strive every day to be the best she can be and help others recognize the potential they have to make a positive difference. @deaaronson

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