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, shifts in contractual expectations, and annual cycles of budgets, performance reviews, grant proposals or contract renewals. It's the job. There is no way around it.
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 the impact the work has on you. The effect on you falls on a continuum. Let's first look at opposite ends of the gamut.
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. You have little energy, 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.
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.
The thriving mode, on the right end of the continuum, is characterized by passion. You are growing and developing and 💜loving it, despite the challenges. 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.
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 that 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 are interacting with, and the day's agenda, you can shoot from one end of the continuum to the other pretty 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 fully use your skills and talents. Often it's a sign you have been in the same position for longer than you should have been.
I find that in this coping mode, many leaders are tolerating, settling or complying with less than stellar workplace environments, teams, and bosses. Things aren't good, but they are not so bad that you feel urged to rock the boat.
Coping mode runs the range 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 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.
Moving from survival to thriving
The truth is you can move from surviving to coping to thriving at work and in life. You have a choice. You do not have to stay stuck in your current mode forever. For you to move forward along the continuum, there are three key things you need to do.
Be gentle but persistent as you develop new habits
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 so you can increase your competence, feel more confident and THRIVE, in leadership and life!
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.