Go Beyond Survival Thinking

16th November 2020

Author: Pramod Veturi, CEO, International Business

There is a distinction between Survival and Survival Thinking.

Many times in our life, we encounter challenges and problems that could significantly impact our experience in that moment of crisis.

 It could be the loss of a job OR

 Death of a bread earner in the family OR

 Becoming a single parent due to the end or divorce of the partner

When we encounter jeopardy or crisis, we all focus on and do whatever is needed to ensure self and immediate family safety. In such moments, we default into a “survival” mode to ensure that our well being is defended and protected.

On the other hand, Survival Thinking is a mindset that stems from the context that our life is perpetually in a state of danger and crisis. We are always on guard, looking out for imaginary threats and problems. And, even the smallest issue or problem takes the color of crisis in our mind.

No matter whether you are someone senior or a young executive, if you operate with a Survival Mindset, your default life experience is marred by stress and a feeling of being hunted and threatened all the time. When you work with a survival mindset, you are in a state of competition. It is You Vs. The World.

 “She got the promotion. They are not valuing me.” 

 “They did not call me for the meeting. I must have done something wrong.” 

 “My boss has not acknowledged my contribution. He doesn’t think my work is good.”

A subset of Survival Thinking is Scarcity thinking. Just as Survival and Survival Thinking are different, Scarcity and Scarcity Thinking are two distinct phenomena.

A daily wage earner, operating hand to mouth, struggling to make ends meet, is experiencing real scarcity. Someone from an advantaged background can also experience scarcity, E.g., Buying that dream house where you pool up all your savings to a point where you have to operate on a shoestring budget for a few years.

But, Scarcity Thinking is different. Despite having all the trappings of affluence and abundance, if someone feels he doesn’t have enough, he is operating with a scarcity mindset.

Both Survival Thinking and Scarcity Thinking stem from a standpoint that money, resources, ideas, etc., are in short supply, and unless you have more, your life will not be safe.

If someone has a real life-threatening disease, the solution will be to provide the right kind of drastic and intense medical intervention for the person to recover.

If someone is normal but imagines that he suffers from a life-threatening disease, what is the cure or treatment? It can only be to convince the person that he is absolutely normal.

Similarly, if someone is in a real crisis, there is a possibility to extend support and help the person tide over the crisis. But if someone imagines a crisis or scarcity, what is the solution? It is in helping the person recognize that there is no scarcity, and there is enough for everyone.

In a way, when there is no crisis, you don’t have to worry about survival. It means life is good and abundant. Take a leap of faith and operate fearlessly. Feel abundant, and be generous. Think of what you can share, what you can give instead of what you can take.

There is no need to operate with a Survival Mindset. There is enough for everyone !!

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