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From Survivor to Striver: Cultivating courage and building boldness

“I would rather be ashes than dust.” ~Jack London

You have from this moment until the day you die to live the life you want to live. Most people will default to the culturally programmed setting of mere survival. They will make excuses for why they don’t strive. They will remain content with merely surviving.

Strivers, by contrast, are not content. They choose not to default to the preprogrammed setting. They choose to strive. They choose to live life to the fullest despite doubt, despite struggle, and despite a world that seems to be preventing it at every turn. They choose to live now, in the moment, striving for awe and aha-moments, for courage and boldness, despite fear and insecurity.

Going from mere survivor to fearless striver is no walk in the park. It’s not for the timid or faint of heart. It’s for boundary-breakers and horizon-seekers. It’s for comfort-zone stretchers and risk-takers. It’s for those with hearts resilient enough to handle being broken and put back together again. Strivers live not just to survive change, but to thrive with change.

Here are seven critical differences between survivors and strivers…

1.) Survivors aim to feel secure; strivers aim to expand potential:

“Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.” ~Euripides

Security is overrated for a striver. So is safety and comfort, for that matter. A striver understands that too much comfort, safety, or security handicaps expanding potential. Healthy expansion requires a little discomfort and insecurity. It requires a leap of courage into the unknown. It requires risk.

Where a mere survivor sticks with the tried and true, a striver strives for the true and untried. A striver risks security, safety, failure, or fear of the unknown to bring a new way of perceiving truth into the world.

Where a survivor clings to their security for dear life, a striver rides the wave of their insecurity to expand life. The comfort zone is meant to be stretched. The box is meant to be flattened. The paradigm is meant to be broken. The known is meant to collapse into the unknown lest we limit ourselves to the parochial and outdated.

2.) Survivors stick to the familiar; strivers need to explore:

“The less people know the more stubbornly they know it.” ~Osho

Exploration is the lifeblood of the striver. It’s the ocean of their self-expansion. Where the survivor clings to the safety of the shore, the striver sets sail into uncharted waters.

It is not enough that the striver has overcome his/her safety, security, and comfort. It is not enough that they have stretched their comfort zone, flattened the box, or questioned the paradigm. The leap of courage is just the beginning. There must be exploration.

The unknown must be transformed into awe through curiosity. Remaining curious is how a striver guards against relapsing into a mere survivor again. Exploration cultivates curiosity which prevents this relapse.

The vehicle of curiosity is “all-terrain” when it comes to exploring the unknown. A striver motivates him/herself in the face of the unknown despite the familiar, declaring to the world, “Buckle up, buttercup! There is life to be lived!”

3.) Survivors seek self-preservation; strivers seek self-improvement:

“The monuments of wit survive the monuments of power.” ~Sir Francis Bacon

Stivers understand that too much self-preservation is just as much of a trap as safety, security, and comfort. Where a survivor merely preserves the self through the same boring routine, a striver improves the self by having the self-discipline to break away from routine and reroute it into a new routine, again and again.

To go from merely surviving to vitally thriving, one needs a way to reroute routine, to un-habit old habits and then re-habit with updated habits. One must self-improve to get ahead of comfort and routine. Getting out of survival mode and stepping into thrive mode is a way for a striver to do precisely that.

Exploring the unknown requires the ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome. Strivers are adept at adaptation, impresarios at improvisation, and self-overcomers par excellence.

4.) Survivors stay out of trouble; strivers take a stand:

“He who cannot obey himself is commanded.” ~Nietzsche