Why We do what we Do Part 1 of 6 – Certainty

SafetyWhy do we do what we do? You already know that we are all different, and we’ve looked at how our worlds can be experienced differently through our filters, particularly our beliefs.

Another reason why people are different is that we are all fundamentally driven by a number of “invisible forces”:

  • Certainty/safety
  • Uncertainty/variety
  • Significance
  • Love/connection
  • Growth
  • Contribution

Tony Robbins calls these the Six Core Needs, and you can watch his informative and entertaining TED Talk here. We have ALL six needs in us. It’s just that some needs drive us more than others. The needs that drive you can explain┬áso much about why we have certain preferences for jobs, sport, partners etc. Pretty cool, right?

Let’s focus on Certainty in this post first. We will then explore the remaining five core needs in upcoming posts.

Safety first – our need to have certainty

The first need is Certainty, or safety. We all need to feel safe. This is not unlike the first layer of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that suggests that it is not until we feel certain and safe that we can move towards self-actualisation. Many have challenged this, citing examples of people doing amazing acts of kindness towards others and the world without having their basic needs met. Which is why the six core needs are a bit easier to digest than Maslow’s Hierarchy. Rather than a path, the needs operate independently of each other.

So, we need to feel safe. We need to have routine. Depending on how much you need this determines how much it drives you. If you find yourself motivated by routine and knowing what’s happening next, one of your primary drivers is most likely certainty. Awareness of this can be very powerful, as when your need is not being met in a resourceful way, you will seek to meet it in a way that does not serve you or move you closer to your goals.

How do you know certainty is one of your key drivers?

Ask yourself:

  • Is it important for you to know all the steps before you start something? Or are you more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” type person?
  • Do you like to have movie tickets booked and paid for before you get to the theatre?
  • Do you have a “career trajectory”?
  • What sort of car do you drive? What were the most important criteria?

If you err towards the safety/security side of things, most likely one of your drivers is certainty. Being driven by certainty is not in itself a good or bad thing. It is only when you are not getting your need for certainty met in a resourceful way, you could seek unresourceful methods such as over-eating and being a “control freak”.

Stop and reflect. Is your current behaviour serving you? For what purpose are you doing what you are doing? Are you meeting a need for certainty in a way that is not working for you? What could you change? How else could you meet this need? A way that is more resourceful?

Are you driven by certainty? Many people are! How have you made it work for you? Feel free to share using your favourite button.


  1. […] could be one of your primary drivers. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can find it here. I also highly recommend Tony Robbins’ TED Talk, where he touches on the “invisible […]

  2. […] perceive the situation differently Which was interesting because I was right in the middle of my 6 Core needs blog series, so I didn’t have to look far. This situation (and many others) is a reminder […]

  3. […] hold on to things mainly due to a need for certainty and safety. It feels good to have familiar things around us. Even if those things (or people) are not good for […]