Maslow's hierarchy has served motivational thinkers for many years. It has been very useful in mapping out reward systems and providing a base motivation framework for employees in industry. However, while the popular five levels of; basic needs, security, belonging, recognition and self-actualization must be carefully interpreted in different cultural contexts to be meaningful, the whole structure lacks a foundation.
Though Maslow talks about self-actualization as the "ultimate existence", it is impossible to realize oneself, let alone your full potential, without knowing who you are. The foundation then is, WHO ARE YOU?. If you can answer that question competently, then we can agree on what your "ultimate existence"is. For the most part people rush through Maslow's hierarchy in search of success only to find that they lack fulfillment at the top. They find out, too late, that they have no clue of who they are. Maslow's hierarchy makes a lot more sense with a foundation when applied to human beings.