Every morning each of us is faced with a choice – is my life about surviving or thriving? Webster’s defines “to survive” as to not die, to continue to exist. Throughout the world there are many for whom just surviving takes extraordinary courage. But their drive to survive, they will tell you, is powered by the hope that one day they will have the opportunity to thrive. In other words, to flourish and prosper.

Whenever an organization finds itself stagnant and its employees uninspired and disengaged, it can often be traced to executives locked in a “surviving’ mentality. Let’s do a quick assessment of the culture of your organization.

Are people stuck in the past or planning the future?

Are they finding fault or finding solutions?

Are they pointing the finger or being accountable?

Are they complaining or collaborating?

Are they just getting through or breaking through?

Being cautious versus courageous, thinking narrowly rather than expansively, being content to meet standards rather than aspiring to the highest standards, are the attitudes and behaviors of leaders who have settled for surviving. They are leaders who are playing safe rather than playing to win.

The culture of organizations – the sum total of how the group as whole thinks and acts – is created by and intrinsically connected to the people who lead them. An inspiring purpose, a compelling vision, and values that define what an organization stand for, are embedded first and foremost in the hearts, minds and actions of its leaders. This “thriving” mentality then flows through and permeates the organization. It manifests as exceptional levels of employee contribution, creativity and commitment.

It was George Elliott who said: “It is never too late to be who you might have been.” So how do we move from surviving to thriving?

It is not possible to have a thriving organization unless those who work in it are thriving. Thriving organizations are built by those who, having been given the opportunity, make a deep personal commitment to thriving. This brings us back to those who lead – do their attitudes and behaviors create a culture of thriving? Here are some important distinctions:

Survivors focus on:                                           Thrivers focus on:

People as Ordinary                                            People as Extraordinary

Making Excuses                                                 Making Commitments

Doing what is asked                                           Adding Value

The Obstacle                                                       The Dream

Putting Out Fires                                                 Blazing a Trail

Limitations                                                           Great Expectations

And, whilst Thriving Leaders understand the future is always uncertain, they also believe the future is unlimited.

Thriving is not an appearance, it's an experience.”

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