Abraham Maslow did not believe as behaviorist psychologist believed. He thought they went overboard and were overly concerned with their scientific observances of activity. He thought they neglected the inner workings of humanity, the part that made each one an individual.
His theory in scientific circles is known as Self Actualization - the knowing of self. And he knew himself. As a child he was the first of seven children of Jewish Russian emigrants. And as a child, he was, according to what he said of himself, shy, neurotic, depressed, unhappy, and self dejecting. Yet in spite of these barriers to success, he succeeded.
Probably his unique knowledge of himself and of his failures worked together to produce the effective psychologist he became. His brand, and the one where he has had a great deal of influence, is labeled Humanistic.
His friends so inspired him as to their wholesomeness that he, wanting to know what made them 'tick' carried a notebook around and took notes of their behavior. As a psychologist and while researching one is immediately aware of a human being in love with humanity. There is no shred of envy of those with traits he does not possess, but there is a curiosity as to why they act in such uplifting and moral ways.
His ideal world sees humans concerned with their full potential as individuals in areas of love, fulfillment, and becoming good citizens because they are aware of their own self worth and their own uniqueness.
In his Association for Humanistic Psychology he lists five prerequisite: man is more than the sum of his parts; his reason for being is sharing himself with other; he is aware of himself and makes his own choices; he is one among many other individuals; he should be recognized as being unique and applauded for it.
Maslow was also interested in the business world. He did not stop his humanistic efforts with man alone. He considered the leader and how effective he could be not only to his business but to those working under him if he appreciated their special uniqueness.
"Motivation and Personality" (1954), "Toward a Psychology of Being" (1962) are two of the books where he developed his ideas further on self-actualization. They have become models for those interested in mental health and on how to take virtue and morality to an everyday level where all humanity where all can partake.
It is not to the rich and the famous we should look for models, he advises, but to those who know themselves and act according to their beliefs in themselves. He knew himself and he listened to himself and he set out to share this with a world, who he thought would benefit. This is his legacy. His "study of psychologically healthy people, their values, truth, creativity, beauty, goodness, wholeness, aliveness, uniqueness, justice, and their and their simplicity"
His reasons why more do not benefit from their inherent potential: People need to move upward; and when they do not rise to their better selves, its their neurosis that is blocking them; they should be more aware of their natural society; their business and their personal growth should grow along together.
Some other bits and pieces of what he believed about the people who made up his humanist world: Peak experiences [such as success] removes symptoms of depression, lack of self-value, etc.; people can change their view of themselves if they desire it enough; needs to be released to be himself to fulfill his potential creativity he was born with; good experiences help him to improve by wanting more of the same; the remembrance of beauty and creativity and happiness can sustain during the times of dullness, boredom and the down times.
Thus Maslow's legacy is his insistence that people believe in themselves.