Striving vs. Thriving

In this episode Melissa and JJ discuss the difference between striving and thriving and what it means to be in the different stages.

November 3, 2020
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years. So JJ, I want to talk about something today that I've been thinking about a lot the last week or two. And that is this idea of the difference between thriving and striving.

JJ Parker  0:33  
Hmm, that sounds interesting.

Melissa Albers  0:36  
As as like humans, right? Like, the difference between when we are striving to achieve something like striving to be happy striving to feel productive, versus thriving, when we're in the exact same environments, the exact same scenarios, but we're really thriving. And I don't want to talk about it, like from the external, what the what the reaction is, like, what it looks like, but I want to talk about the energy difference between the two.

JJ Parker  1:09  
Mm hmm. Okay.

Melissa Albers  1:12  
I've been noticing, particularly in the last few, like I mentioned, the last couple of weeks, I've had several conversations with my clients. And I too, have been in this state of change. I don't know now, it's, you know, we're recording this, it's the beginning of September, everything is going to different things. Now we're going back to school, we're going back to these different habits and routines in the fall. And yet things are very different for us as a country and, and everything right now. And I think that there's a lot of people that are very much wanting to feel good. They're working very hard to feel good. Some of them may even be skating on being depressed or really sad, and taking herculean efforts to go do something to feel good, which would be that really that striving energy, and the things that are created from that energy are very different than when you are just allowing things to be and doing your best and being satisfied with your authentic self. Yeah. And thriving.

JJ Parker  2:30  
Yep. Well, if we just think about that for for a bit, if we just think about it in the context of our COVID experience, right, that we have all gone through. Back in March, right, that was almost like a survival thing, like, Oh, this big things happening. Edo, everyone kind of, you know, either hunkers down or jumps into some action, but it but it was like a pretty abrupt change. Right? Yeah. So that happened. And it was like a search, right? Like, yeah, that's a good way we're all gonna get, we're all gonna get through this everyone kind of jumps in. But then since it's gone on so long, it's turned into something else, right? Where it's been depleting energy over a long period of time, like months and months and months. And, yeah, what I feel you're saying is like, a lot of people are in a mode of striving, right? Like, hey, we're, we want to get out of this. I want to do something to try to escape the situation I'm in and that's not really a thriving, you're not thriving, either by interest trying to get out of something,

Melissa Albers  3:51  
right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I don't I don't I I should also add, which I didn't, but I should also say like, there's not a judgement in this. I'm not judging, being in striving mode versus thriving mode. I'm not saying striving is wrong. I'm just saying that. I have noticed a tremendous difference in energy. You know, it's created from the striving place.

JJ Parker  4:17  
Yeah. Well, I can tell you that, you know, without, you know, a big example like, like, COVID just in my like, artistic pursuits, right. I moved from striving to thriving all the time, possibly multiple times in a single day on a single project, right. Yeah. Yeah. So I agree. There's no judgment and it's part of Yeah, the cycle, right. It's just part of life as you move in and out of it. Sometimes it might be big events that last months or years. Sometimes it might be small events, like, like I'm really trying to push some work out. It's just not working. Everything about It's terrible, that would be striving to get it done. Not thriving in the, you know, glow of creation or

Melissa Albers  5:11  
the glow.

Unknown Speaker  5:13  
That's a great, have

JJ Parker  5:14  
you seen? Have you seen me do art, it's amazing. It's literally glowing.

Melissa Albers  5:22  
I just was, I think that you're right like it is a continuum, we are always striving and thriving, striving and thriving. And yet I think that with greater awareness of our own true feelings, that here's an example if there is somebody who feels down, and maybe it's somebody who's even depressed. And a model of not being as aware, would mean that when they sensed that they were becoming depressed, when they felt they were kind of on that downhill slide. And they were feeling really sad and listless and no energy and wanting to sleep a lot. And a lot of times, that takes a while even for the awareness to kick in. So if you're lower in awareness, plus, you deal with that, there's a point where you recognize Oh, I'm here. Like, I, I didn't realize I was going here, but I'm here. And, and now. I hate it. I hate where I am, I don't like this, I hate how I feel. And I don't feel productive, I don't feel like I'm contributing. And I know where I'm gonna be, I'm just gonna be in this black hole of myself forever. And I just don't, I'm so unhappy. And so there's like a continuum, right. And in a less aware state, in addition to being depressed or sad, there is a, like, almost a mental decision that happens that says, That's it, I'm not doing this anymore, I'm going to wildly do the opposite. I'm going to start calling on my friends, I'm going to force myself to clean my whole house, I'm going to force myself to pretend like I'm okay, I refuse to let myself be at this state. And to me, that's more of that striving, unaware. Because what happens is those energy gears and those cycles, I think, start to kind of rev up. And, and what you produce in that state has that energy signature, and I'm using big, weird, weird terms today. But yeah, it use it. When you when you produce from that state, even well intentioned, it's absolutely exhausting. And it's like forced, forcing positivity forcing behaviors, forcing all of these, you know, false emotions, to fake it till you make it.

JJ Parker  8:05  
Yep. Yeah. You know, that does. That explanation resonates with me. Because, you know, early in my career, when we were building a company, there was there, you know, there was probably years where, you know, it was a real struggle all the time, right. Like, we never had a cache, we struggled to get customers, our product was buggy, like, like, just everything felt really hard. And we would do that all the time. Like I remember a jokingly, we would talk about how I would dynamite plunger, things like that was like a term this employees would use. Because some things I just would want to blow up because I was so done with it. Like, I just couldn't make it work. I was just so done with it. Yeah. But looking back at that, that was obviously me, in that state of striving, like, I want a thing that happened. I couldn't figure out how to make it happen. It was frustrating. I was emotional about it. And I just tried to force things which made everyone irritated, which probably like was opposite of what I actually wanted to have happen. Right. But was just trying to force it all to happen in it in it. And it wasn't it was hard. It was it didn't feel good. Right. It didn't feel like we were being successful. It's felt like we're failing all the time.

Melissa Albers  9:37  
Yeah. So that was

JJ Parker  9:39  
we're just trying to plow through Right, right. And so this was in hindsight, we could have taken a better approach.

Melissa Albers  9:46  
Yeah, but this was you and see, but there's no judgment there. Like I don't think that there's any place for judgment whatsoever. Because you were learning and growing and you were in a more unaware state of your own process and your own feelings. Definitely, you know, Then due to being very, you were very young, like, there's a whole bunch of stuff in there. So it's not even. So like, I want to be just really clear, like, it's not about the judgment of self. It's not about like taking your inventory, right, this moment saying, am I striving or thriving? What a jerk? I am, it's like, or why did I do that in my past, I'm so terrible. It's nothing like that, because we're all on this continuum. However, I really feel like this, the difference between striving and thriving is also on a continuum, you know, you can be striving on one end of that stick, as I talked about, you know, with every subject, there are two subjects, the absence of that subject and the having of that subject. And in this case, I feel like those are the ends of the stick sometimes, where, when we're in this striving mode, it isn't probably realistic to expect ourselves to go from striving, oh, I noticed I'm really working hard, I'm really striving to that's it. I'm gonna force thrive myself. You know, it's no big of an energetic leap. There's not a there's not an opportunity for us to do that. In the moment.

JJ Parker  11:07  
Actually, you said something that I think is really interesting. You said, I'm going to decide to force myself into a thriving mode, which is just the definition of striving, right? It's like, that's the definition of like, you're not going to get there with that kind of attitude, right? Because, because when you're in this, this mode of thriving in this, this feeling, and this beam of thriving, it's not any of those things, it's, it's easy, and everything's in flow, right? And you're there, but maybe you didn't even know how you got there.

Melissa Albers  11:46  
Right? Right. You just allowed you or more allowing, it's like to Yeah, like, let's just take that exact same example. So like, if that example of being at the bottom of the hill, you know, when you're feeling really down, I had a business partner once who described like, true depression in this way. And I thought it was really a fascinating description. He said, Melissa, you don't actually know when you're starting to hit that place. It just happens. So gradually, that one minute, you feel fine. And the next minute, you are outside at three o'clock in the morning with a headlamp and a tweezers, getting that one weed out of your front yard, right? And that visual to me was so dramatic, but such a perfect example of how we just don't see how we are kind of moving in a direction until we're all of a sudden at this point where we have this recognition. And so what I'm talking about is the departure from the moment we have that recognition. Like, what would happen if, instead of what did you call it the dynamite plunger?

JJ Parker  12:49  

Melissa Albers  12:50  
that's a really funny phrase. So like, what happens if we hit that spot rather than reaching for the dynamite plunger? Maybe what we can suggest to ourselves is more allowance like, isn't that interesting? Like, I'm here, I feel and just again, like we say, just check in with yourself. You know what, I don't feel great right now. And my inner instinct tells me get into high gear, go do something, make it happened. Rather than doing that, what would happen if I just observed, like, I, this doesn't, I'm not feeling great. What is behind that? What is making me do not feel like I'm thriving.

JJ Parker  13:33  
Let's, let's talk a little bit more about what it feels like to be thriving. But we spend a lot of time on striving, right. Yeah. But to me, describing what thriving is like, yeah, and then thinking, you know, sort of getting getting yourself into a state where you are striving? Um, yeah, there's, there's similarities there. Like, like, the path is easier when you describe what's driving, it's like,

Melissa Albers  14:03  
Yeah, well, for me, like, I have a perfect example. Like, when we have like, even in our podcasts, recordings, you know, when we're having a really good recording. I'm not thinking about the creation that we're creating. I'm not thinking about, oh, it needs to sound perfect. I need to be this JJ needs to do these things. Like I'm in the flow and I trust, I'm trusting the feeling that it's working. Like I trust that momentum is gradually sort of building on itself. And it feels good. Like, I don't feel the need to interject hard activity or action or Brain Stuff.

JJ Parker  14:51  
Yeah, it all just sort of unwinds on its own somehow. Yeah, right.

Melissa Albers  14:57  
Yeah. And I don't mean to say that we're not being wise like It's not like we're not doing the work, right. It's not like we're not having a sort of game plan. We're professional people we have like

JJ Parker  15:07  
we prepared, right, like we prepared. But in, but in the moment, but we're just like, you're kind of saying like, I during the recording of the podcast, like maybe even right this very second. We're just in the moment. We're right here. We're just chatting. We're not worrying about what happened yesterday, or what I got to do. Like tomorrow. Right, right. Right. Right. And so just me thriving is a lot about being in that moment. Oh,

Melissa Albers  15:33  
that's a really good distinction. Yeah, for sure. And, and not thinking too far in the past. Not thinking too far in the future. Just allowing and enjoying being right here. Yeah.

JJ Parker  15:47  
And that's very, and that makes everything feel very easy. Yeah. Right. When you're in that state, it's like, you know, athletes will just describe it as being in flow or in the right being in the zone. But that's a great place to be right. And if you can be at that state, more not maybe for a single podcast recording, but like for an entire day, or even an hour, maybe even five minutes. It's it really changes how you know, your, your mental mood, yeah, really changes your happiness.

Melissa Albers  16:24  
And I think too, what's absent in thriving, what's absent is the mental calisthenic all the mental calisthenics? Is this okay? Am I doing this? Okay? Like the death of 1000 cuts constantly self evaluating and self criticizing telling yourself stories, wondering how other people are thinking you are wondering if other people are thinking you're doing okay. Like all that stuff is absent in the place of thriving from for me? Yeah.

JJ Parker  16:53  
So Ivan is like, has there's no judgment when it's out when you're in that state? Right. And there's no judgment from others. There's no judgment from yourself. Actually, most importantly, there's no judgment from yourself. Most of that's the thing. Mm hmm.

Melissa Albers  17:05  
Yeah. And I think when we become more aware of our own feelings, like that's the first thing we always talk about. The second thing is, is once we have those, the awareness of those feelings, to not shove them away, or pretend they don't exist, or force, the act yourself, as we always talk about that act yourself is fake it till you make it should push other emotions out that aren't true. When we're not doing that, you know, that allows for us to just be and then it makes it easier. So checking our, our own emotions, and then, and then noticing what they are and being with them for just a moment rather than judging them or pushing them away.

JJ Parker  17:50  
Yeah, yeah. The one thing that, you know, 40 something year old, JJ would like to tell 20 something year old JJ is instead of walking around the company pushing dynamite plungers. Nowadays, nowadays, it it's just like, slow down a little bit, sit with it, don't take shots, such big action, don't try to force things that aren't going to happen. Like, oh, like nowadays, if we're working on a project, and it's just doesn't seem to be going very well. We just stop. Like, we don't try to force it. You don't feel like we're just gonna stop? Yeah, we'll just stop, we'll just do it later. Like, if something about the energy isn't working right now. Like, we're not going to force it. Because I know, that doesn't work. I know, I know, it doesn't work. And, and it's much better for me, and everyone else to just put that stuff on pause for a while. And if it's important, and if it's right, it'll come back. Yeah. And sometimes it comes back the next day. Like, it's kind of amazing how when you when you just let some of those things go that you thought were really important things to get done. Just let them go. Just the act of letting them go actually kind of unsafe, and unstuck stem like getting unstuck, right?

Melissa Albers  19:18  
Well, and also it causes a lot less resistance. Yeah, it causes less resistance. It's exactly like, even so you were example you were an example of talking about working with people at work. But even if we're talking just about ourselves with ourselves, when we notice that we are not in that thrive state and we really crave it. And then we begin to really strive I think, again, just recognizing, oh, here I am like I'm forced, I'm really forcing myself to be that way. And what if I just take my foot off the gas just a little bit, rather than expecting myself to go from I'm not very happy. I'm actually pretty sad to I'm going to be sad. super happy by five o'clock and I'm going to do all these steps. There's so much energy and that makes it so there's so much resistance in that. What if we just brought ourselves to just a little further towards thriving, meaning take my foot off the gas, I'm not going to put such harsh expectations on myself, the house does not have to be spotless by 6pm. So that I can prove to myself that I'm not sad. Like, I don't have to do anything to prove anything.

JJ Parker  20:30  
Yeah. Yeah, that letting go is an important part. And that letting go of your self judgment. I mean, I think we said that maybe a bunch of times already. But to me is so important.

Melissa Albers  20:43  
And I think to this stuff that is, you know, this is gonna sound a little airy fairy, maybe, but I always, I always, you know, scared on the side of sounding that way, sometime, which I'm fine with. But that what you create, when you're in a moment of striving, you'll always remember that, like, you don't necessarily remember that thing that was created. But if you talk about it, and come to the realization of like that project, or this art project, or I made myself finish that book, I can almost guarantee that you don't remember the subject at all. But when you think about that subject, you remember how you felt. So it leaves a residual energy almost. And when you have more of that allowance, and more, when you have less resistance, and you're just in the flow of things, again, the same thing, whether the expression of it was completed and perfect, you won't remember that as much as you'll remember how you felt like, wow, I remember when we like you. And I, when we created certain things with our other company, core algae, like, we had so much joy about the stuff that we were creating. And we really remember that every time we talk about it, we talk about it's so fundly Yeah, because of the outcome of what it was or wasn't, but how we felt in the process of that.

JJ Parker  22:02  
Actually, it's true. It's, it's funny when you and I talk about this all the time, like, sometimes when we're really in the flow, like, right after we won't really even remember, know what we created. But, but the whole the whole college experience, I might not remember the details of exactly what we created by certainly remember how it felt. We talked about how it felt all the time. Yeah, how our team felt how it felt to be supported and working in, in a team that was like, you know, so in sync with each other. Like, we can describe it in those ways

Melissa Albers  22:37  
very clearly. Right. Exactly. And for the listeners core, ology was a startup company that JJ and I had a few years ago.

JJ Parker  22:44  
Yeah. So you know, what, I started that I, my strive for this podcast was just not to mix up the word striving and thriving.

Melissa Albers  22:56  
I had that worried. I was like, Oh, no, wait, what is because this is so important. Why

Unknown Speaker  23:02  
did we Why do we pick up podcast topic with two words that are almost the same?

Melissa Albers  23:06  
Well, I'm on my way to a Dr. Seuss moment.

JJ Parker  23:12  
Well, but beyond that, I think this is like a really interesting conversation, because I'm going to guess if people sit and think about the difference in their lives of points when they've been striving. And, and and times when they've been thriving. And really think about the feelings of each of those states. It'll be really insightful.

Melissa Albers  23:40  
Yeah. And I think to like, just in close, like, we've had listeners that have asked us to sort of, hey, when you do finish your podcast, like, what should we do? Like, give us a give us something to try? Or? And I would just say again, what is it that you are striving for in this moment? When you're listening? What are the what's the stuff in your life right now that's causing you to really strive for a certain outcome? And what are you doing to add to that striving? And can you take your foot off the gas? Like what can you What can you be okay with just more of an allowing perspective, check in with those feelings and what feels good to you and move always towards activities, beliefs, thoughts that make you feel good. I think that's the most important thing. If you've enjoyed this podcast, check us out on the web at the self awareness journey.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Facebook

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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