Imagine you’re chatting with your neighbour in her backyard, right next to her vegetable garden.
You look down and notice that some veggies are doing well and others not so well.
Her carrots and spinach look healthy and happy — they’re brightly coloured and perky, with lots of new sprouts. They’re clearly thriving.
But her tomatoes look like they need water or nutrients or something. Their leaves are yellow and wilted. And, compared to the carrots and spinach, their growth looks stunted.
The tomatoes are clearly struggling. They look like they’re just surviving.
Sometimes it’s the same for senior female executives.
Feeling like you’re “just getting by,” “just surviving,” isn’t good enough if you want to be known as a world-class leader. You can’t afford that thinking.
World-class executives create impressive results, and they’re also okay with their vulnerabilities. They’re comfortable being who they are. They don’t conform to being a particular type of leader.
They’re poised, no matter what mayhem is going on around them.
Just-surviving leaders are a different story. My heart goes out to them. They’re trying so hard to do what needs to be done to produce good results.
They continue to be passionate even when their workload and feelings of overwhelm have them questioning “why they’re doing what they’re doing,” and (to top it all off) they’re not convinced that their approach is good enough, let alone best-practice.
The Just-Surviving Picture
So as an executive, what does it look like when you’re just surviving?
The extreme just-surviving executives typically:
- Isn’t achieving their targeted results.
- Doesn’t have the impact that they want to have (and therefore aren’t certain that their approach is the best one).
- Has too much on their plate. They feel burnt out.
- Doesn’t have time to give the help and support to others (at home and at work) that they deserve.
- Spends too much time on the operational and tactical (which deprives them of future-designing, strategising time).
- Hasn’t created a motivated, engaged culture.
- Feels uncomfortable with, and disconnected from, several people they work with.
- Isn’t enthusiastic or energised.
- Doesn’t feel inspired.
- Believes that they’re not making a big enough difference.
- Has more problems than solutions and too many unanswered questions on the table.
- Experiences overwhelm, heightened stress, and exhaustion.
- Isn’t handling difficult people or situations confidently and courageously; or they’re avoiding them completely.
- Wouldn’t describe themselves as a highly influential leader.
- Doesn’t have a knowledgeable confidante with whom they can share their successes, challenges, and concerns.
The good news is that if you’re closer to the surviving end of the surviving-thriving continuum than is ideal, you can turn things around.
And to begin to turn this around, we need to answer two critical questions:
- What specifically is contributing to your feelings of surviving-not-thriving?
- What exactly does thriving look like for you?
Can you imagine how it’ll be when you have a lot more thriving in your days, weeks, and years?
Continued in Carolyn Stevens’ book, “Stepping Into Your Power“.