Mallow’s hierarchy of needs are as follows in ascending order physiological, safety, love and belonging, self esteem, self actualisation. The assumption that one need must be filled before higher needs can be tackled. In reality this is not the case.
The paradox occurs when individuals completely satisfy a need higher in the pyramid whilst they are still striving to master a lower need. Someone might have issues with hunger or lack of sleep but reaches full potential in the creative arts.
They have a great of self esteem whilst struggling with love and belonging. As a general rule it works but there are many exceptions. We are not all made the same and our abilities and potential are not formulaic Someone could reach their ultimate potential of saving another life whilst having few or even none of the lower needs realised.