Picture a tightrope suspended between two towering cliffs. On one side, a lush thriving landscape beckons with promises of growth, fulfillment and abundance, while on the other, a rugged terrain of survival demands resilience, adaptability and a keen instinct for navigating challenges. The decision to thrive or survive hinges on a myriad of aspects—personal, environmental and circumstantial. So, how is it possible to recognise the need to shift from survival to thriving mode? When to survive and when to thrive?
Suchismita Burman, senior HR leader, points out, “From an organisational perspective, the appropriate time to shift from survival to thriving mode depends on its (organisation) stage of maturity.” The matrices utilised for survival versus thriving are in a perpetual state of flux, adapting to the evolving external conditions. Maintaining a static status quo becomes increasingly challenging as the matrices are constantly recalibrated to align with the shifting landscape of circumstances.
Another consideration applicable to both organisations and individuals involves determining the threshold matrix—those criteria relevant for one to actively pursue one over the other. This becomes especially crucial when transitioning from a state of survival to one of thriving. The interplay of mindsets becomes pivotal in this context. Burman clarifies with an example, “While one startup may believe that reaching Series B funding is essential for survival, another may feel it is doing adequately but needs additional resources to truly thrive. The key lies in defining one’s purpose for using the matrix—clarifying what survival means to one as opposed to what thriving entails.”
“From an organisational perspective, the appropriate time to shift from survival to thriving mode depends on its (organisation) stage of maturity. The matrices utilised for survival versus thriving are in a perpetual state of flux, adapting to the evolving external conditions. Maintaining a static status quo becomes increasingly challenging as the matrices are constantly recalibrated to align with the shifting landscape of circumstances.”
Suchismita Burman, senior HR leader
One’s capacity to thrive, whether as an individual or as an organisation, is intricately tied to the daily choices one makes. It’s essential to maintain a focus on the desired outcome, utilising matrices to define ‘thriving’. However, the crux lies in the daily decisions, actions and choices, determining whether one merely survives or progresses towards thriving. Hence, it is crucial to maintain a well-balanced frame of reference.
In another point of view, Emmanuel David, senior HR leader, opines, “It boils down to comprehending the context and purpose, aligning oneself accordingly, and cultivating a mindset that embraces alternative perspectives.” He goes on to explain, “When operating from a scarcity or survival mindset, one’s choice of words tends to be limiting and obstructive. Conversely, adopting a mindset that seeks (thriving) to facilitate, encourages a focus on solutions and sharing, rather than constraints.”
“Survival instincts often come into play while operating from a mindset of scarcity,” opines Shailesh Singh, CHRO, Max Life. Even in crisis situations, Singh suggests adopting a mentality of abundance—not implying wastefulness, but embodying generosity, cultural richness and a sense of superiority.
One can also utilise data as a reference point to recognise this shift. For instance, at a certain point, Airbnb faced the possibility of bankruptcy, but today it is thriving. The pivotal moment was when the company could have succumbed to the adversity by adopting a defeatist mindset, it chose to ask itself, ‘What are the steps required to survive?’
Burman asserts, “Taking incremental steps to survive is what opens the doors to opportunities to thrive. Thriving requires an expanded perspective and constant reassessment of the choices being made.”
“It boils down to comprehending the context and purpose, aligning oneself accordingly, and cultivating a mindset that embraces alternative perspectives. When operating from a scarcity or survival mindset, one’s choice of words tends to be limiting and obstructive. Conversely, adopting a mindset that seeks (thriving) to facilitate, encourages a focus on solutions and sharing, rather than constraints.”
Emmanuel David, senior HR leader
Furthermore, the survival instinct is paramount when constructing frugal business models, consistently prioritising resource efficiency. However, when it comes to interpersonal interactions and cultivating a cultural environment, it is advised to operate with a mindset of abundance and plenty. “One can benefit from embracing a mindset of plenty, taking what is needed without accumulating excessively at the expense of others. Striking a balance, optimising, behaving generously and recognising that there is enough to go around fosters a cultural environment of abundance,” enunciates Singh.
Additionally, recognising individual needs and tailoring responses accordingly is another crucial aspect on the organisational front, which can help create a thriving culture. David shares his past experience — “In a previous organisation, we implemented a unique holiday policy where along with five government holidays — including national holidays — we allotted five additional days off for major festivals, allowing the flexibility for employees to choose based on their faith. Recognising that different regions celebrate diverse festivals, we offered two optional holidays, contingent on prior notice to the organisation. By aligning with the needs of the workforce, we realised that instead of a complete shutdown for ten days, it was reduced to eight, including two extra working days. It became evident that not everyone opted for leave on all designated days.” Hence, the recognition of diverse needs is essential.
Resilience also plays a significant role when recognising the need to shift from surviving to thriving. “The key is to not become overly attached. If one becomes too fixated on the idea that the current situation is inadequate and that one must thrive, it disrupts the ability to maintain satisfaction with the status quo,” believes Burman. Therefore, unless one shifts from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance, it becomes challenging to identify the signs indicating when to make that shift. Objectivity is crucial for thriving; excessive attachment is counterproductive.
“In the immediate term, it’s crucial to operate with a mindset geared towards survival and efficiency, applying the instinct for resourcefulness. In the longer run, adopting a mindset of abundance is essential for long-term richness and prosperity.”
Shailesh Singh, CHRO, Max Life
Burman opines, “To thrive, adopting a beginner’s mindset is essential, as it involves seeing everything with a fresh perspective. It emphasises constant renewal and the recognition that past successes don’t guarantee future survival. It’s a mindset vital for thriving, not just for survival.”
On the other hand, Singh believes that there’s no inherent contradiction; that both elements are necessary depending on the time period, that is, in the short or long term. “In the immediate term, it’s crucial to operate with a mindset geared towards survival and efficiency, applying the instinct for resourcefulness. In the longer run, adopting a mindset of abundance is essential for long-term richness and prosperity,” believes Singh.
When it comes to recognising mindsets in the workplace, whether in a leadership role or as an employee, it becomes crucial to be able to distinguish between a surviving and thriving mindset. David recalls an experience — “During my tenure I implemented an unconventional learning experience—a visit to a fisherman’s village. Senior executives were accustomed to high compensation and competitive market thinking, while the fishermen who earned modestly, exhibited an extraordinary mindset of sharing. Despite their limited earnings, the fishermen shared their fishing territories with others, emphasising that the sea was abundant for everyone. This showcased an abundance mindset—a stark contrast to the scarcity mentality often seen in competitive markets. The lesson learned was profound: in scarcity, one strives to survive, but with abundance, there’s a willingness to share. Applying this insight to various situations, especially in understanding diverse segments and needs, is crucial for fostering a thriving environment.”