I want to talk about two people, both facing the same challenge in their personal and professional lives.
The first is a friend of mine who I’ve known and worked with for years. We talk often, and almost every time we do, she complains about her job. Most of her complaints are about how her employer can’t seem to get out of its own way. Unforced errors, inefficient management, constant pressure to hit quarterly deadlines. She laments that the company seems to have no long-term strategy in place. She often makes suggestions to her boss and other executives for how the company can turn things around and begin to grow.
Her suggestions are either blown off, or she’s told that the company needs to get on better footing before it thinks about making ‘big’ changes. Every time I talk to her, she laments ‘I really don’t know if I will still have this job in a year’. She worries about the future of the company.
I ask her why she doesn’t consider another job? She is far too qualified to be in such an unhappy role, and her current employer clearly doesn’t appreciate her talents, or know how to leverage them within the company. She always says she doesn’t want to ‘start over’, and she hopes the company will figure out what it needs to do to turn things around.
My friend and her employer are both stuck with a survive mindset. The company doesn’t want to plan for the future, the CEO and her bosses just want to make it through this year. Then when things start to improve, then they can consider making changes
At the same time, my friend is also focused on a survive mindset. She’s unhappy at her job and knows she can do so much more. But at the same time, she doesn’t want to look for another job. Maybe she fears the process or landing in an even worse position.
When you’re only focused on the short-term, whether you realize it or not, you are simply surviving.
Here’s another example. I have a wonderful network of professional friends that I lean on for support and guidance. I talk to them often about what I’m working on, what I’m focusing on, and where I want to go.
All of them always ask me when I am going to write another book, and when I am going to start podcasting again. I always tell them I appreciate them asking, but I can’t focus on those things right now. Both would take too long to show results, I have to focus on what will work right now.
Without realizing it, I was also adopting a survive mentality. I always dismiss the idea of writing another book or restarting my podcast, simply because those efforts would take months to bear fruit. I need results today! I need income today!
Recently, I did a little exercise. I thought of a number, an amount I’d like to make over the next year from my business. It was a BIG number. And I asked myself ‘What would I need to do in order to hit that number?”
And I started brainstorming internally, and one of the first thoughts I had was ‘Well I would need to write another book, and I’d probably need to start podcasting again.” Without thinking, I went straight to doing the same things that my friends had been pushing me to do.
The light bulb went off. I had been sabotaging my own ability to thrive, by adopting a survive mentality. I was focusing on just getting through this month. Then next month do it again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I was focusing on getting immediate results, anything that wouldn’t see results for a few months, or longer, was being put on the backburner.
And I’m sure my friends could sense this, that’s why they kept suggesting I do things like write another book, or start podcasting. Because they wanted to see me THRIVE!
What’s the Difference Between Surviving and Thriving?
Surviving is what happens this month or this quarter.
Thriving is what happens 5 years from now.
Recently, I finally had a chance to read Simon Sinek’s wonderful book Start With Why. In Chapter 6, he talks about the turnaround at Continental Airlines that happened under CEO Gordon Bethune in the 90s. Prior to Bethune’s arrival, the entire working environment at Continental was very toxic. The employees were always stressed and in bad moods, and they treated the customers poorly as a result. I thought this quote from page 84 really resonates with the Survive vs Thrive mentality:
Some would argue that the reason Continental’s culture was so poisonous was that the company was struggling. They would tell you that it’s hard for executives to focus on anything other than survival when a company is facing hard times. “Once we get profitable again,” the logic went, “then we will take a look at everything else.”
How many of you have heard this at your own company? How many of you have heard it in your own household?
Focusing on today isn’t how you create a happy tomorrow.
And let’s be honest, focusing solely on the present, always adopting a survive mindset, is exhausting. It beats you down, it can steal your hope and your happiness.
But just shifting to a thrive mindset, empowers you. Suddenly you are filled with hope, you have a sense of control over your personal and professional life.
When I wrote that BIG number down, my first thought was to revert back to a survive mindset.
“That number’s too big!”
“There’s no way I could hit that!”
“Let’s be reasonable!”
I told myself. Then I calmed down and thought ‘But what if I could? What would need to happen in order to hit that number? What changes would I need to make?”
Before I knew it, I had a long list of things I could do to hit that BIG number.
Suddenly, that unreasonable number that I could never reach…looked possible. Just sketching out a rough plan made it seem more…real.
It was empowering, I must say.
Think about your job. Hopefully, you love your job and look forward to going to work everyday and changing lives for the better. But for those of you that are dis-satisfied with your job, like my friend above, what needs to change?
Do you need a bigger salary? Do you need to perform different tasks that take better advantage of your skills? Do you need more time off?
Think about what YOU want from your job, then list out what would need to happen in order to make your wants become reality. For instance, maybe you wish you were making 30% more. Ok, then how would you get there? Maybe it’s something as easy as switching jobs if you are underpaid. Or maybe you would need to get a promotion to make 30% more. In that case, think about the changes you would need to make to justify the promotion. Maybe you need to learn new skills, or maybe you need to gain a new certification, etc.
Before you know it, you have a plan in place, and can go to your boss and ask for additional training that can improve your skills.
It’s so empowering! But it starts with accepting you are settling for just surviving, when you really want to thrive. Once you shift your mindset to thrive, then you want so much more for your life, and you become excited about planning out how to achieve more.
When your friends ask you why you don’t apply for a better job or why you don’t pursue this or accomplish that, understand that they are pushing you to thrive. They can see that you are stuck surviving, when you could do so much more. Surround yourself with a support group that pushes you to thrive!
If this last year has taught us anything, it should be that life is too short to be miserable. We are not meant to just survive, we are meant to thrive!