by Gary 'Z' McGee
September 22, 2021
Nick Brandt Photography
be ashes than
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.
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
It's for comfort-zone stretchers and
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
aim to feel secure - Strivers aim to expand potential
Security is overrated for a striver. So is safety and comfort, for
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
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.
paradigm is meant to be broken.
The known is meant to collapse into
the unknown lest we limit ourselves to the parochial and outdated.
stick to the familiar - Strivers need to explore
"The less people know
the more stubbornly they know it."
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
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
The vehicle of curiosity is "all-terrain" when it comes to exploring
A striver motivates him/herself in the face of the
unknown despite the familiar, declaring to the world,
buttercup! There is life to be lived!"
seek self-preservation - Strivers seek self-improvement
"The monuments of wit
survive the monuments of power."
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
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
Strivers are adept at adaptation, impresarios at
improvisation, and self-overcomers par excellence.
stay out of trouble - Strivers take a stand
cannot obey himself
Stivers realize that life is a risk. And they embrace that risk with
courage and fervor.
Where survivors fear making waves,
relish in it.
Sometimes you must rock the boat to keep it afloat.
Life is too short to be a bystander.
Strivers take a stand.
draw a line in the sand.
They crush ultimatums through the power of
their own moral autonomy.
They ruthlessly reveal why the buck must
Especially in the face of a profoundly sick society that pollutes
its own air, water, food, and minds, and then has the audacity to
use its overreaching power to unconstitutionally detain nonviolent
Strivers are willing to cause trouble when the culture itself is
troubled. They must. Trouble be damned! When society fails to
regulate itself, man must regulate society.
This has always been the
task of the striver amidst the merely surviving social milieu.
avoid pain - Strivers transform pain into power
"It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the
strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually
strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms, the great
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best
knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the
worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his
place shall never be
with those cold and timid souls
know victory nor defeat."
Survivors avoid pain by becoming critics of a striver's growth.
Strivers use pain as a steppingstone to dare greatly. They do this
despite the slings and arrows cast by the critics who judge "the
doer of deeds" from the sidelines of their mere survival.
The transformation of pain into power becomes a passionate
expression of self-overcoming. A fierceness is born that's magnetic.
It lights the soul on fire. One becomes a beacon of light in a dark
Or, even better, a beacon of darkness that pierces the
In short: a striver is a force to be reckoned with rather than a pawn
(mere survivor) to be toyed with. Despite failure, despite success,
the world opens up to the striver who dares greatly.
see work as labor - Strivers see work as laboratory
"If you really want truth,
you need to escape the black hole of
and allow yourself to waste time
wandering here and there on
Yuval Noah Harari
For a striver, the labor of life is one big experiment.
The world is
a giant laboratory that the striver navigates through the trial and
error of his/her striving. Where the survivor merely labors for the
money to live, the striver risks his/her labor through love, and
money comes only as a side effect of that love. If at all.
In the laboratory of a striver's striving, work is simply having the
self-discipline to risk and dare greatly.
Where a survivor works to
maintain safety, security, and comfort, a striver works to
experiment with safety protocols, expand security through daring,
and stretch comfort zones through leaps of courage that may fail.
All while striving to transform boundaries into horizons.
see life as a struggle - Strivers see life as an adventure
"The greatness of man
lies in his decision
to be stronger than his
Where a survivor experiences learning as effort, a striver
experiences learning as life. Life is one big adventure, and
strivers are determined to live their own hero's journey.
Through thick and thin, through trial and error, through ups and
downs, through love and loss, through victory and tragedy, strivers
strive, relishing in the struggle, knowing that it will just make
them stronger, more robust, and antifragile.
Strivers strive, sharpening themselves on the whetstone of pain,
reconstructing their never-not-broken hearts, and remapping the
outdated maps of Mother Culture.
A striver strives for the
progressive evolution of the species, for the striving of the
species, for the overcoming of the species, not for the mere
survival of the species.
Strivers understand that the journey is the thing, and they aim to
provide their own hero's journey as a blueprint for how to keep the
journey the thing, rather than allow their short time on this earth
to shrivel up into the fruitless decadence of mere survival.