The Need Behind The Need and Why It Is Important To Know It

Nine years into my Marine Corps career, I received orders to recruiting duty. This meant I was about to enter the world of sales – pretty much the last job I ever wanted. However, my desire to continue my thus far successful career outweighed the alternative – refusing those orders would be the beginning of the end of my days as an active duty Marine.

Like everything else in the Marine Corps, there was a very precise method the Marine Corps had developed for its recruiters to use in order to find and sign candidates. Once the candidate sat down for his appointment, the recruiter would present eleven “benefit tags” and ask the candidate to choose the his or her three most important benefits the Marine Corps could provide. These benefit tags consisted of six intangible benefits and five tangible benefits:


  • Challenge
  • Pride of Belonging
  • Leadership and Management Skills
  • Self direction, self reliance, self discipline
  • Courage, poise, self confidence
  • Professional Development and opportunities


  • Physical fitness
  • Technical skills
  • Financial security, advancement, and benefits
  • Educational opportunities
  • Travel and adventure

The purpose of this exercise, on the surface, is obvious – find out what is important to the candidate and show him or her how the Marine Corps can provide it. However, the recruiters were trained not to accept this first answer as the final answer – we were to find out why these particular benefits were important. We were to find “the need behind the need” and then explain how the Marine Corps could help with those issues.

This is an important concept that could help everyone with their relationships – and everyone has relationships. Your spouse, kids, boss, employees, friends, banker, doctor – the list is endless. Just as Dr. Phil wrote in his book Life Strategies, “People often do things for other than the apparent reason.”

Just as you must know and understand why your goals are important to you, you must understand why people do the things they do – or least understand that there may be a reason you have not discovered yet. Without having and understanding a real “why”, your goals will be easier to abandon and when dealing with other people, your relationship may suffer or not realize its full potential.

Take some time to think, really think, about what is important to you. Do you have a real “why” or “need behind the need” identified? How about with that one person you seem to have constant conflict with – until you know what makes them act the way they do, conflict will reign. It is important to remember that they, like you, have goals, problems and issues they are dealing with. Take some time to try and find their need behind their need.

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