Abraham Maslow was one of the leading writers and thinkers in self-actualization and human potential.
He was best known for creating his hierarchy of needs, “a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization.
“Maslow was a psychology professor at Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research and Columbia University. He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a “bag of symptoms.” [Wikipedia]
Here are some quotes from one of his books: Toward a Psychology of Being :
Furthermore, all these basic needs may be considered to be simply steps along the path to general self-actualization…
By taking these data into account, we can solve many value problems that philosophers have struggled with ineffectually for centuries. For one thing, it looks as if there were a single ultimate value for mankind, a far goal toward which all people strive.
This is called variously by different authors self-actualization, self-realization, integration, psychological health, individuation, autonomy, creativity, productivity, but they all agree that this amounts to realizing the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human, everything that the person can become.
Continued in article Toward a Psychology of Being [excerpts from book]
Related article by Maslow: Self-Actualizing and Beyond.