Do any of these sound familiar to you:
If you are all too familiar with these phrases and want to change that, keep reading. I am going to show you how to move from just surviving to thriving in both leadership and life!
The Surviving to Thriving Continuum
Sadly, far too many women leaders like us regularly recite similar lines like "Just get me through today!" Regardless of the version, each of these mantras is a red flag signalling that you might be in survival mode. We've all been there at some point or another.
Survival mode becomes a problem when you live there, rather than visit there.
There will always be busy times. Leaders are constantly involved in the ebb and flow of new projects, the shifts of contractual expectations, annual budget cycles, performance reviews, grant proposals or contract renewals. It's the job. There is no way around it.
But as you begin to learn how to ditch survival mode, I am not talking so much about work itself. Instead, I am focusing on your attitude towards the work, how you balance your workload, and how the work impacts you and your relationship with your work.
How that all affects you falls on a continuum. So let's first look at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Survival mode is characterized by fear. You are always afraid of falling apart, dropping the ball or losing it emotionally. You are barely hanging on, just getting by or just trying to stay alive.
In survival mode, it feels like everything is a battle, and you must suffer through it or endure the storm. As a result, you have little energy and are negative, cynical or openly apathetic. Perhaps you've found yourself muttering "Whatever!" a little too frequently.
Those in survival mode tend to feel isolated and alone. It doesn't feel like anyone cares about you or that you have anyone on your team. It often seems like "they" are out to get you.
When I was in survival mode, I honestly hated a few people and loathed a couple of others. I always felt like they were ready to throw me under the bus!
This end of the spectrum, survival, is marked by crisis management, putting out fires and only day-to-day sustainability. Lord knows you can't last like this forever. Burnout is knocking on your door.
On the right end of the continuum, the thriving mode is characterized by passion. You bloom and flourish as you learn new things and take on engaging projects. To many, it is an adventure with a purpose. You are blooming and flourishing as you learn new things and take on engaging projects.
Those in thriving mode tend to feel confident, courageous and resilient.
It isn't that people at this end of the continuum don't encounter challenges; the difference is that they are confident they can handle challenges.
When I moved into the thriving mode, I was eager to go to work, felt like I was doing meaningful work and could say I was stretched, but not to the point of snapping.
This end of the spectrum, thriving, is marked by feelings of being engaged, supported and connected. Leaders in thriving mode feel like they belong to a broader community of support and feel they are making a positive impact through their work.
It's usually not black or white
Rarely are any of us entirely at one end of the spectrum. We are likely at some point in between. We ebb and flow daily. Depending on where you are, whom you interact with, and the day's agenda, you can shoot from one end of the continuum to the other quickly. As such, most of us sit somewhere along the surviving to thriving continuum, moving around various points in the middle.
The Middle – Coping Mode
In the center of the surviving to thriving continuum is what I call coping mode. You are doing more than barely getting by, but you're not feeling so alive that you want to yell from the mountaintops about how much you love your job. Instead, you go to work and have some good days, lots of so-so days and a few insane days.
The coping mode can also be thought of as maintaining. You're doing good enough, the best you can or at least less than bad. You exist.
Some leaders are bored in the middle. There is no challenge, no pull or drive to use your skills and talents fully. Often it's a sign you have been in the same position for longer than you should have been.
In this coping mode, many leaders tolerate, settle, or comply with less-than-stellar workplace environments, teams, and bosses. Things aren't good, but not so bad that you feel urged to rock the boat
When I was in coping mode, I felt emotionally flatlined. I didn't feel a lot of excitement or joy. Instead, it felt more like I was running around the same hamster wheel day after day. I had a few friends to connect with that would let me vent, but not enough support to move the needle forward.
Coping mode ranges from short-term stability, meaning you could go on like this for a few months, to a way of life. Sadly, many women leaders believe this is just the way it is, and they don't think they can change it. So instead of a period before things move one way or the other, leaders stay in coping mode for most of their careers.
This is going to take time and effort. But please don't think you have to do it all alone! I'm on your team. Each week I teach you the daily steps you need to take and the mindset shifts you need to make to increase your competence, feel more confident and THRIVE in leadership and life!
I read how to get out of the survival mindset.. this is really useful with few practical advices to advance from survival to coping to thriving continuum.
You are so very welcome Jose!
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