Thriving, for me, reflects my ability to create and express something new and of value. In the business world, we would liken thriving to innovation of products and services. Surviving, on the other hand, reflects the need to take care of oneself and one’s creations. We do this through healthy eating on a personal level or optimizing efficiency and effectiveness on a professional level.
In our past work world of slower change cycles, we more leisurely moved our focus back and forth between surviving and thriving. For example, one planning cycle (1 to 3 years) may have constituted optimizing product revenues by eliminating production errors. In a subsequent planning cycle (years 4 to 6), our strategic focus may have been creating new products to meet new market needs. However, today’s rapid change cycles (less than 1 year) require us to optimize and innovate simultaneously, which is why the world feels like and is a more complex place to live.
In my own experience, the balancing act between surviving and thriving constitutes a very fine line before the scale is tipped. For someone like me who loves to take giant leaps and feels beleaguered when required to take one baby step at a time, I painstakingly learned the latter skill in order to sustain balance.
At different points in my life, I came face-to-face with my absence of balance. When I contemplate these various situations, I recognize they share a common thread – either I was too focused on thriving (creating) or I was too focused on surviving (caretaking).
My poem below illustrates this ‘wrestling match’ between seemingly opposing forces.
What sustains me is not present in the visible world.
It resides in the invisible temple of my consciousness.
This is only a partial truth, for it is the Earth’s plenty
that feeds this vessel housing my soul.
And it takes both body and soul to feed my spirit.
Therein, deeply buried, lies my treasured playmate.
I would join her, best friend her, but first
I must nurture the vessel that is her gatekeeper.
What shows up in your life as survival mode? And how do you find yourself thriving? How do you or can you create balance between these two experiences?