There Is No Future in ‘Survival’.

 When was the last time you figured out how much of your time you spend in survival mode? I’d check if I was you – mostly our survival mode is unobserved by the self.

Survival based existence is just getting by, making it to the end of the day, putting on hold personal evolution or revolution. It’s forsaking longer term self growth and realising your potential for the immediate gratification of getting by or the prevention of disappearance into one’s own tight dark space.

One very capable, smart and savvy client I’m working with has just ‘got’ that his intent is to survive meetings with his boss. On reflection, in his words ‘pathetic’. My words, ‘good, now you can change to  a more powerful intent (like raising the bar)- for you and your boss’.

The dictionary defines sur·viv·al as a noun as follows. ( I believe it’s more of a condition for the unsuspecting – not a noun):

  • The act or fact of surviving,  especially under adverse or unusual circumstances.
  • A person or thing that survives  or endures, especially an ancient custom, observance, belief, or the like.
  • Anthropology  (no longer in technical use) the persistence of a cultural trait, practice, or the like long after it has lost its original meaning or usefulness.

 Questions to identify the survivor:

  1. Are you surviving until the weekend so you can do a bit of recovery and then start surviving again on Monday?
  2. Are you engaged in activity professionally and personally that is more about thriving over surviving?
  3. Do you spend your days in ‘fight or flight’ mode; pumped up, adrenalized, caffeinated, edgy!?
  4. You feel its all about catch up, keep up – not about being ahead of the curve?
  5. Are you happy with how your days, weeks, months and years are being used up? Clue – do you feel you have been surviving them versus thriving and squeezing the juice out of time?

Step 1.

Realisation is the first step, maybe the only step as all change flows from the wake up call.

Ask yourself  ‘what is my intent in this situation. Am I just just trying to survive or am I maximising all I can be and all I can accomplish?’

Me, I have just woken up from a low level survival sleep and I never saw it happening. Somebody old and oriental said ‘what dosen’t kill you makes you stronger’.

We all get into survival at some point – the trick is to stop and notice.

Paul Fox

Paul Fox has been active as a Construction Industry Performance Coach for the last 20 years and remains at the forefront of Collaborative Working and High Performance Team Behaviours. He disrupts the status quo of individuals, project and senior teams who want exponentially more output with much less struggle.


  1. Jonathan Scopes Says: May 19, 2012 at 5:35 am


    If a tree got that far above the surrounding canopy it would look different. It would be branching out, and shading the trees below it more. It would no longer look like the trees from which emerged, it would be changing shape and character.

    How do you both become different (reach your full potential) and not damage the surrounding trees (by cutting out their light)?



    • Paul Fox Says: May 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Great question Jonathan. Thanks.
      I’m compelled to consider the quote of Sir Isaac Newton to say everything I would day in a very succint mannner!

      “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” (Isaac Newton, Letter to Robert Hooke, February 5, 1675)

      It’s all about intent for me. My intent is to reach my full potential by working with others… and honestly striving for them to keep pace with that or moreover, outpace me.
      If the leader is growing, or, in reality being seen to grow but is in fact sucking the ideas or life out of his or her team it’s unsustainable.

      It is the leaders job to stay ahead of the game, evolve themselves and be a great model for personal growth. Just by growing we inspire others to follow suit and throw out a challenge to do likewise.
      My old boss used to say it was my job to put him out of a job so he could go onto bigger better things – win win for us both.