Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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The Facets of Love

After celebrating freedom last week during the 4th of July festivities, today is an opportune time to zero in on a subject that has impacted all humans since the beginning of time. And that is Love!
From morsels of advice like The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, that urged women to head to the kitchen and prepare mouthwatering meals to attract suitors. Or The Beatles’ classic: All you need is Love that encouraged people to love themselves but also left many groveling in despair, wondering if they will ever meet The One. Or doughty assertions like All is fair in love and war, that some use to express their unbending intention to fight for their object of affection – no matter what it takes! And then there is a most peculiar phrase: Love yourself or no one else will, which sounds more like a warning than an encouragement! 

Indeed, as humans, we have a natural obsession with understanding love. And not just romantic love but all facets of love.

The most asked question!

What is love?
As we might imagine, this is one of the most asked questions! In fact, in 2012, it was the most searched query on Google. What is love? Five theories on the greatest emotion of all | Jim Al-Khalili, Philippa Perry, Julian Baggini, Jojo Moyes and Catherine Wybourne | The Guardian And today when many think of love, their minds settle on the concept of romantic love. But as many of us know, there are many facets to love. Also, while romantic love surfaces for many in their lifetime, from the point of conception, we depend on different forms of love. One might witness an expression of love when a mother cradles her newborn baby. Or when a fifth-grader reserves a seat for his playmate in a classroom. Or perhaps, when a 42-year-old joins a support group to gain support in processing feelings of abandonment from childhood. 

Indeed, long before humans can comprehend language, grasp the meaning of life, or desire romantic partnerships, they need love to thrive.
Naturally, this would lead one to ask: What are the facets of love?
And to better understand this, we will turn to the ancient Greek philosophers who explored the subject. Here, I will focus on the six love forms they elucidated. As well as on the concept of self-love.

Naturally, you might be thinking Ummm… Aké, Did you miss the boat? Valentine’s Day was five months ago! Why address love now? Touché! 😊 Well, the answer is clear-cut! Love is essential for human well-being. And love will be a defining quality in the thriving workplace of the future.

So, what is love?

Six Facets of Love


First, let’s start with perhaps the most common variety of love known as eros, aka passionate love. Today, when many use or hear the word: love, their minds fixate on eros. Because eros is most akin to the modern construct of romantic love. Also, Hollywood blockbusters with serendipitous beginnings and fairy tale endings often suggest this is the ultimate conquest! And in movies, we are reminded of this when Cupid’s arrows roam the skies, descend upon an unsuspecting victim, and instantly ignite the spark of love. Ironically, this happens in real life too! And to demonstrate this, I’ll share a story…

Several weeks ago, during a tête-à-tête, my dad narrated a story he loves to recount: When he first met my mom! Amusingly, this time, he added more details…
Many decades ago, in West Africa, after a soccer tournament, my dad and his teammates stopped at the town my mom lived in to greet one of the elders. The elder was my mom’s father, i.e., my grandpa. And during the visit, my dad caught a glimpse of my mom and wanted to introduce himself but didn’t have an opportunity. 

The Descent of Cupid’s Arrow!

Serendipitously, in the middle of the conversation, my grandpa requested my dad drop his daughter (my mom) off at a nearby town. To which my dad quickly responded: Sure! My friends and I are going in that direction, and I will happily do so. Ironically, my mom’s destination was not along my dad’s route. Contrarily, it was in the reverse direction! And to realize his wish, my dad convinced his friends to go in the reverse direction and drop off my mom. Notably, this added hours to their journey and the rest is history. Apparently, in the pursuit of such love, time is inconsequential. 😉

Notably, while the introductory story of my parents’ relationship is charming, they are the first to tell many who seek their counsel that developing enduring, loving, lifelong partnerships requires more than passion. And this underscores the value of developing the ability to cultivate the other facets of love.


Therefore, next, let’s explore a facet of love that most of us are familiar with known as philia.
Philia refers to friendship or shared goodwill. And it is a mutually beneficial and invaluable form of love. Consider a friend who graces you with companionship, dependability, and service. 

And this evokes a memory of a wet spring weekend many years ago when three male friends devoted their time and energy to helping me move into a new home. Notably, this was extra special because at the time, my friends were in their late 20s and Saturday was considered the best day to go on romantic dates! Therefore, by choosing to help me move – i.e., sweating, and lifting heavy boxes and pieces of furniture, they sacrificed an opportunity to meet their future somebodies, aka life partners!


Then, there is a form of love many are fortunate to experience from birth. And that is Storge or familial love.
Storge pertains to the love between parents and their children. Unlike eros or philia, storge is born out of familiarity or dependency. Therefore, it is much less conditional or dependent on a person’s qualities.
Consider mothers and fathers who stay up late to care for their little ones when sick. Or parents who work tirelessly and acquire hard-earned money to give an oft-misbehaved child a promising future. Hmmm… an unquestionable love!

Universal and Unconditional

Appropriately, next is Agape, aka universal love.
Most commonly known by the Greek word, agape in the Bible, this form of love tends to be misunderstood. Because many consider it a mere emotion, but it signifies much more. Agape means unconditional love, i.e., love that exists irrespective of whether one gets anything in return. Also, in a spiritual and religious context, agape is often described as the kind of love that a Supreme Being has for humans.

Importantly, agape is highly significant in human connection. – One may think of this as altruism, defined as a selfless interest in the welfare of others. And altruistic acts can range from sacrificing one’s life to save another to simply holding the door open for a stranger.
Remarkably, those who engage in altruistic acts often experience a euphoric feeling, known as the “helper’s high”. It seems altruism benefits both the giver and the receiver. Indeed, associated with enhanced mental and physical health, and longevity, the benefits of altruism are plentiful. Altruism, happiness, and health: it’s good to be good – PubMed (nih.gov).

To further illustrate this, I’ll share a personal example… 

Less for me and more for another!

Early, one winter morning, several months after moving into my current home, I went for a brisk walk. After walking for about half a mile, I attempted to cross a street. And immediately noticed a vehicle approaching. Therefore, out of caution, I paused on the sidewalk and waited for the vehicle to pass. Well, the driver in the car had the most peculiar response!

He stopped several feet away, from where I was standing, turned off his engine, opened his door, and gently but assuredly said: I will not drive until you cross. Please cross. I was astounded at his reaction, smiled, thanked him, and crossed the road. What a kind gesture! As I gratefully marched on, I imagine the man gave himself a little pat on the back and went his merry way. 😊


In stark contrast to Agape, is Ludus.
Ludus is playful or uncommitted love, focused on having fun. As with all forms of love, effective communication is essential. And the need for effective communication is especially dire when both parties have different intentions and interpretations of the meaning or weight of gestures. Because problems surface when one leads another to gain false hope. – Such as when one’s actions and words suggest a romantic relationship is blossoming only for the other to learn they were never truly cared for. Or when a worker is encouraged to give tirelessly to an organization believing they are next in line for a promotion. But learns they are next in line to be laid off when they receive the severance agreement. Indeed, Ludus can be a risky game.

Commitment and Compassion

And last but not least, is Pragma.
One might think of this as a logical form of love. Because pragma is practical and founded on reason or duty. Also, grounded in longer-term interests, pragma is a committed and compassionate love, that grows over time. Interestingly, on a personal level, some believe pragma was predominant with arranged marriages in ancient times. Because for the arrangement to stick, both sides would need to perceive the agreement as mutually beneficial and commit.

And in a professional capacity, consider a business merger… For a business merger to succeed in the long term, at the very least, both parties must be committed and stay the course. Indeed, lasting love requires commitment!

To delve further into the facets of love, you may peruse this informative article which was one of the sources I leveraged: Love – Wikipedia

An invaluable facet of Love!

Exploring the realm of love would not be complete without looking behind the curtain of self-love, also known as Philautia, aka Amour de Soi, in French!
Now, I can see eyes rolling as they glance at the term: self-love! Therefore, let me address the elephant on the page 😊

Today, self-love is one of the most misunderstood terms. Because self-love is often confused with narcissism, selfishness, and self-absorption. – All of which lead to disasters because individuals place themselves and their desires above the greater good. However, these are anything but the output of self-love. Self-love is not only beneficial to an individual. It is a requirement for a healthy and thriving society.

How so, you might ask?
Self-love is a natural tendency and it is not based on logical reasoning. Notably, the concept of self-love originated in the 18th century from the Genevan philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who stated that self-love is the source of human passion. Notably, passion is a much-desired virtue in the workplace!

The Value of Self-Love

In addition, while acts committed out of self-love are for an individual’s well-being, they do not entail pursuing one’s interest at the expense of others. Consider the familiar scenario of low cabin pressure in a fight! When cabin pressure is low, a flight attendant gets on the mic and instructs passengers to wear oxygen masks before helping others – including children! I don’t know about you but the first time I heard this announcement, I thought it was the most selfish instruction ever uttered.
However, a closer look suggests otherwise! Because to help another, one needs to be capable. And this holds in professional contexts, as well. Indeed, this is the business rationale for a strong leadership development program: Preparing and equipping leaders to help others!

Notably, in excess or when misguided, self-love can be unhealthy. And in an unhealthy state, self-love is akin to hubris: exaggerated pride or self-confidence. In classical Greek tragedy, hubris often led to the demise of the tragic hero. Because hubris, aka overconfidence, led the hero to assume a godlike status and attempt to overstep the boundaries of human limitations. And to remind the hero of their mortality, the gods would humble them leading to their downfall.
Amour de soi – Wikipedia

Unfortunately, today, hubris is often on full display! Indeed, a glance at a news publication detailing scamming, money laundering, or a cold round of layoffs reveals that hubris is all too common!

Two essential questions!

Undeniably, love is vital to create a thriving environment – personally and professionally! But the tendency to reduce the concept of love to romance leads many to misunderstand its potent abilities and avoid the word at great lengths. However, in the future, because of love’s unique ability to thread people together, and increase motivation, love will be a defining quality and cornerstone of a healthy organizational culture and workplace.

In anticipation, questions worth pondering are: How do I embed love in my leadership style? And how can I enable this vital essence to permeate my work environment? Specifically, ensure employees feel valued and dignified. 

Have a lovely week!

For you and to you,



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