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  • Writer's pictureNatalie

Do You Have What It Takes to Sur-Thrive?

As I read a post from a long-time employee of Southwest Airlines detailing the issues that led to the airline’s recent travel debacle, I was struck by how the problems described by the employee are eerily similar to the issues that bring down human beings. There are several basic traits that humans and businesses both need to possess in order to continue flying. After all, businesses aren’t machines; they are simply entities comprised of humans. Without these traits we might survive, but we will find ourselves on a crash course with compromised mental health. Our goal shouldn’t merely be to survive, but to sur-thrive.

Introspection – This is our ability (and willingness) to look inside ourselves and identify potential problems. If we set our instruments on autopilot, we could miss the inevitable need to make adjustments to our behaviors, verbal responses, and decision-making. If we can’t identify a problem, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Or, as I tell my clients, avoidance isn’t a good strategy.

Collaboration – If we don’t have the ability to be introspective, are we at least open to asking others what they see in us? It’s true that even the most introspective people can lose perspective at times. Just as flight attendants, pilots, and baggage handlers need to work together to get a flight out of the gate, we must be open to seeking input from trusted people in our lives to help us stay on course. We should ask ourselves – Am I a good, active listener? Do I accept and apply constructive criticism well? Can I put aside emotion in order to make healthy decisions?

Humility-This requires strength. In order to look inside with a critical eye or to accept a helping word from someone we trust, we need to be clothed in humility. We must be able to confess we might not own all the tools to effectively right our plane. Humans are built for relationships and relationships necessarily demand that we be aware of our weaknesses in order to know where work must be done.

Flexibility-In Prochaska’s Stages of Change model, Stage 3 or Preparation, means we are acknowledging we need to enact change. It’s not enough to be insightful, we need action. Flexibility is the trait that allows us to move from what we know into what we don’t know, from the present to the future, and from comfortable yet unhealthy to uncomfortable yet improved. The transformation is a paradigm shift that motivates us into takeoff mode.

Adaptability-Action can be chunky or fluid. Our first step of change might be small, like checking a bag instead of insisting all our bags travel in the plane’s cabin with us. Or it might be grander in scope, such as agreeing to the non-stop flight even though it’s more expensive. Whatever the next right step is, take it. An inability to adapt is the opposite of survival. And adaptation without positivity means we might survive, but we won't thrive.

Our lives and relationships are riddled with patterns, not all of them healthy. Southwest fell into a two-decade pattern of ignoring the instrumentation warning signs and internal red flags waived by employees. They strictly zeroed in on finances, failing to identify their operations were on fire and their antiquated computer systems were taking a nosedive. For humans, patterns may serve us well for a moment or a season. But it still takes consistent service checks, periodic personal maintenance, and even upgrades to keep marriages, friendships, work relationships, and family dynamics in good working order. Are you due for a checkup? Sign up for a session with your personal consultant today!

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