According to psychologist Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs, all human beings must have certain needs met in order to be fulfilled in life.  From physiological needs like food and water to more complex needs, such as self-actualization or the "desire to become the most that one can be," the higher levels can only be achieved after our basic needs are addressed.

These needs can be broadly categorized into deficiency needs (food, rest, and safety), growth needs (belonging, feelings of accomplishment), and self-fulfillment needs (self-actualization). As we’ve all studied in our Psych 101 class, Maslow discovered we all have fundamental needs that must be attended to first, and only then can people have a sense of aspiration and a desire to reach their fullest potential. 

Generally speaking, aspiration usually refers to a hope or desire to achieve something. Yet as I’ve said before, I see aspiration as something more: a fuel that ignites the fire within, propelling us toward our dreams and unlocking our true potential. It’s when you know you can reach that goal and unlock your full potential, but there is still a gulf between where you are now and where you need to be to achieve that version of yourself. Aspiration represents the drive to bridge that gap, the unwavering belief that we can transcend our current reality and reach for something greater.

This distinction is important because rather than focusing on the goal itself, it centers aspiration around the journey toward that goal. As Bel Pesce said in her TED Talk “5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams”, people mistakenly believe that when you achieve your dream, everything around you will be golden. Achieving a dream, however, is a momentary sensation, while our lives are not. This, to me, is what aspiration is all about: confronting the space between where we are now and where we want to be.

Of course, aspiration can take many forms and people can aspire to different goals for different aspects of their lives. For example, from a personal perspective, my aspiration is simply to pay it forward to my daughter and the rest of my family. I want to leave behind a legacy that she and my future family members can look back on and appreciate. Meanwhile, on a professional level, I aim to build and sustain a culture at Quest Global that will endure long after I’m gone, a set of values that people not only remember, but fully internalize. After all, it's one thing to achieve short term growth, but an enduring culture is necessary if you want your organization to survive (and thrive) a hundred years from now.


Neither of these are easy goals, but experiencing how much everyone at Quest deeply cares about what they do is incredibly motivating. Together, we are creating something that lasts, that exemplifies our overarching values, and supports everyone in their wider aspirations. From the way DEI is woven into our company processes to how we articulate our values so that our people understand them, it’s a part of everything we do at Quest Global. We don’t always get it right; there’s always room  for improvement, but our aspirations for the future serve as a beacon on the hill, leading towards a better future for our organization. 


Aspiration is the North Star guiding our endeavors, reminding us to push boundaries, embrace challenges, and never settle for mediocrity. It is something that all of us experience and something that we should encourage in others to help them reach their fullest potential. By embracing aspiration, we gain the capacity to dream big, have audacious and aggressive aspirations, and continually set goals that drive us forward each and every day.


Courtney Headley, Global Head - Culture and Inclusion

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