Road map

Three Moves To Get From a Survive To Thrive Mentality

Lock your history in the closest.

Surely you've learned by now that applying yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems doesn't work well. Pragmatic leaders and organizations (that have taken on their personality) are a higher risk for continuing to do things the way they've always been done.

Surely you've been around leaders and participated in organizations that get more excited about the way things used to be instead of the ways things are and can be. Their time and energy are spent reminiscing about the good old days and reciting the same tired stories.

Leaders and organizations who've made the past a sacred cow will do whatever it takes to survive one more day, one more week (and so on). Redirect that same attitude. To begin moving from a survive to thrive mentality, leaders and organizations must lock their history in the closest.

Why? See what is here and now without perspectives being clouded by past successes and failures.

Put everything else on the table.

Structure can also become a sacred cow for leaders and organizations. Strategy should determine structure. Strategy is dynamic by nature meaning structure must also be fluid. Having structure in place without clarity (about strategy) can still create an illusion of purpose and forward momentum. When crisis happens or mismanaged conflict escalates, leaders and organizations shift quickly into survival mode without a road map to success.

To continue moving from a survive to thrive mentality, everything should have to fight for its life, to stick around.

Put values, mission and vision on the table. Put objectives, goals and action plans on the table. Put roles on the table. Put programs on the table. Put policies and procedures on the table. Put systems on the table. Put line items on the table. Put assets on the table. Put relationships with customers and other stakeholders on the table. Put EVERYTHING on the table.

Why? Clarify the what and why, then align everything else, including who and how, to support strategic focus.

Think like a startup.

Struggle can release creativity and innovation therefore making the impossible possible. New companies with big dreams fight for their lives every single day not unlike leaders and organizations in survival mode.

You've heard it said necessity is the mother of invention but I say to you reinvention is the mother of necessity.

Reinvent yourself. Reinvent the organization you lead. Meet new demands. Make a greater impact. See threats as opportunities. Turn weaknesses into strengths. Vulnerability is a desirable characteristic despite what you’ve heard. Be human. We need more humanity in the mainstream and the marketplace. Write a new chapter that honors the past by creating a future beyond survival.

To move from a survive to thrive mentality, create demand. Create value. Make us say, “How did we get by without you all this time!”

Why? Remember what it feels like — the excitement, the awe — when anything and everything is possible.

Originally published at on March 16, 2015.