Business is about ‘Survivorship’ – agree?

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Do you feel like you are just surviving?

I saw Mark Bouris (of Celebrity Apprentice and Wizard Home loan fame) speak recently at a Business Chicks event. He was athletic, sharp, and charismatic according to one twitter post (read: handsome). What could a man who has rubbed shoulders with Kerry Packer – and done multi-million dollar deals with him – have to teach me about business and leadership? As it turns out – not what I expected.

Mark is a gritty Aussie, prone to swearing, and strong on his opinions. That’s fine – I like passionate viewpoints.

Here’s a little of what he had to say:

“Kerry Packer challenged me to prove I had the ticker [heart], the ‘fight’ to go all the way, even when the chips were down. To never give up. To persevere.”

Cue image of bulldog, whipped and bloodied, bone wrested from enemy and gnawed clean.

“What I believe about success in business? You’ve got to have Survivorship skills. That means when you make your choices [for Mark this is to work 14-16 hours day as chair of three international businesses] – don’t complain. It’s about attitude.”

And cut to the image of monk beating himself with barbed whip…

Hmm…my worldview was being challenged here.  I am not one (anymore post-cancer) to fight until the bitter end, to doggedly plug away until I grapple my way to ‘success’. I am a strong advocate of ‘surrender’, and ‘go with the flow’, and ‘follow your feel good’.

Yes, you need to be determined. And you don’t need to self-sacrifice health, friendships, family on your journey.

Yes, you need to focus on your goals and intentions and honour your dreams. And you need to know when to let go of the ‘how’, and choose the path that best serves you (not the one you’re stuck on because you feel committed or obligated or goodness forbid, ‘duty-bound’).

Mark’s worldview hints to one of the Opportunist: It’s dog eat dog, only the strong survive, take no prisoners. You’ve got to learn to swim with the sharks…

I don’t deny that the sharks exist, the Ancient Roman political manoeuvrings and backstabbing definitely occur, and that many embrace their professional lives with aspirations of top dog status come hell or high water.

What I do challenge is that there is no option to immerse yourself in that environment in the first place.

Sharks, rabid dogs, and backstabbing senatorial toga-wearing politicians stalk their respective corridors. Why go there?

My worldview has been carefully cultivated through tough and gentle experiences where I truly believe that the world is a place of creative opportunity, of collaboration, where you can do good work for self and others and enjoy the lifestyle you choose. And as leaders, we can craft those environments ourselves, and invite others to play in our more friendly and supportive world.

You get to choose the life and work you experience. You don’t need to ‘survive’ it.

Survivorship? No thanks.

I’ll take Thrivership instead.

What do you choose?

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