Moving beyond survival mode

Updated on 16 September 2014

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Moving beyond survival modeIn 2012 I found myself in survival mode after years of rolling from one failure to the next. When I look back at this time the pain was as intense as the kind you feel when that vicious aunt pinches the soft part of your upper arm.

I discovered through intense reflection, during a nine month sabbatical, that I had adopted a survival mentality back when I was twelve years old after my dad made a terrible business decision that led to us losing our first home, and for a while, we barely got by.

Programmed to survive

When I turned 20, I decided to move in with my first love and after a few months, I again found myself in survival mode. I left him, landed an impressive job at a leading management consultancy but still found that I was barely getting by.

In 2004 I started an advertising agency, Afrofusion, thinking I could help executives change the way they communicate to their employees and customers. We did extremely well for the first few years. But since I never ejected the survival mode floppy disk, it showed up in 2008 when I decided to expand and acquire a more established ad agency. We didn’t conclude the deal but the situation left me smack in the middle of survival town. Because I was programmed to survive, it was almost the most normal space for me to be in.

From 2008 to 2012, I rolled from one failure to the next in pure survival mode until my sabbatical. I had to embrace that in order for me to become the successful woman I wanted to be, I had to shed the survival backpack and sort myself out.

“Survival mode stifles innovation so GET OUT”


I spent substantial amounts of time sorting through my financial woes with my accountant. And for the first time, I was no longer afraid of taking the gloomy financial bull by the horns.

I mapped out my 5-year plan and worked my way back to daily routines that I implement to ensure I stay on track and far away from survival town. I scaled down my personal and business space to what I could actually afford. I ensure every account we work on clearly outlines the cost of sales so that suppliers are paid on time.

I learnt that since I was no longer in survival mode I could pay myself a decent salary and adopted Dr. Demartini’s saying: “Always pay yourself first.”

Starting over again

The realization that I had the propensity to pitch my tent in survival town despite the intensity of its pinch is another valuable lesson entrepreneurship taught me about myself. The changes I’ve made and deprogramming years of being in survival mode propelled me to success. It helped me tear down a ruined building, lay the foundation again with a mindset of success not only for myself but everyone in the Afrofusion Village.

If you find yourself in a constant state of survival perhaps it is time to ask yourself some serious questions. Survival mode stifles innovation so GET OUT. We have a continent to rebuild, jobs to create and lives to change.

About the author: Antoinette Prophy is an entrepreneur by DNA. Passionate Afro-Optimist. Golfer. Realist. Always enjoy a good laugh. Love a good book. Antoinette is also the founder of Afrofusion Advertising. Follow her on Twitter at @AntoProphy.

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