Are you a “professional survivor”?

Do you ever feel stuck in your career? You’d be surprised by just how many people are simply surviving in their jobs; going through the motions every day in order to pay their rent or mortgage. 

Let me tell you a story about “Orlando.”

He knew that after a major restructuring due to a merger, he was in a job that didn’t fully utilize his skills or prior work experience. It certainly wasn’t fulfilling, but the money was good. 

He had a nice home, was able to take care of his family’s needs, put away a little savings, and gave to causes that were important to him. On the surface everything seemed good.

He performed well in his role, but wasn’t challenged or growing. There weren’t many job opportunities to move into within his current company without going back to school for an advanced degree. Even then, a promotion would not be guaranteed. Alternatively, he could look for a job at another company – but that comes with an element of uncertainty and risk that he’s not willing to take. 

Ultimately, he decides to stay where he is. His career dreams and professional fulfillment will just have to wait until… another time. 

It sure doesn’t sound like Orlando is thriving in his current situation. He’s stuck. 

You know you are just surviving when you’ve figured out how to get by and “keep your head above water” without drawing any attention to your potential. 

You’re uncomfortable with the status quo, but fear, indecision, and lack of confidence keep you from taking the steps you need to take in order to improve your situation. 

Many people spend the majority of their careers surviving. And it’s a shame because we all deserve so much more. 

You know the game…but you’re not in it to win it 

Survivors learn to work within the system and make things work – without rocking the boat. They are comfortable and make the best of the hand they are dealt. But there are times when that’s not enough, and they get exhausted by the charade. 

They see that the world is moving on without them, and their lack of active engagement does not go unnoticed.  

Survivors often feel ready to do more, to be more. They know that something different is possible. But they rarely move to make it happen because fear and complacency have become their default setting. 

You need to change your playbook

Successful sports teams don’t use the same playbook every year. They mix it up and adapt. But survivors fall into a routine that works and stick with it for as long as they can. 

Not surprisingly – this cannot work forever. 

Survivors don’t grow personally or advance professionally.  They also tend to surround themselves with other survivors to commiserate or even talk about plans none of them are courageous enough to execute – “Today is the day I’m going to make a change!”

But most days, they lack the confidence to do anything to change their reality. Uncertainty holds them back, causing them to miss out on opportunities. And, of course, others begin to see diminished potential. They are truly stuck.  

Become more resilient

I haven’t painted a pretty picture of the “professional survivor.” Ironically most people spend most of their careers in this stage. But you don’t have to.  When you recognize these attributes in yourself – that becomes a catalyst for change from within. 


She’s a woman on a mission, prepped and ready to help you create resilient leaders and a workplace that is poised to succeed. Having weathered her fair share of corporate and career crises of all sizes, Vivian Blade MBA, MBB, PMP, is a global leadership expert and thought leader who equips leaders with the resilience that inspires teams to recover quickly in the face of ongoing disruption and thrive in spite of insurmountable odds.

Vivian empowers leaders and organizations as a frequent keynote speaker for association conferences and in delivering transformative leadership development programs, executive coaching and consulting for corporations.

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