The Elements of Transformation

The Elements of Transformation

skastrul's picture

There is a concept in workforce development that you cannot move people beyond one jump. There are typically 3 stages and you can only jump one stage at a time.

They are struggling, surviving, or thriving.

It is said, You can’t take someone from struggling to thriving. For example, If someone is struggling, you can only get them to a place of survival. If someone is surviving, you can get them to a place where they are thriving. I think this philosophy is wrong. What those categories do is limit us and say you can only do what you can see. I believe our personal power not only comes from our ability to see our future, but also to create it. Perhaps the 3 categories should be imagine, envision, architect or design, build, run, or discover, design, develop, or listen, learn, belive. Each one is a jump, a leap, a dream into action. Each word is a verb and moves us closer to our personal power. You may wonder why I have such trouble finding peace with surviving being at the center?

You know that reality show survivor started its first season as we started our first cycle or cohort of i.c.stars in 2000. We were endlessly compared to the new tv show, people talked about getting voted off the island by their team members as they worked on a website for their client. It was competitive and then it was collaborative, we were not in the jungles fending for ourselves we were in a new context delivering solutions for our client and yet so much was new, and different and we needed to depend on our strength and resiliency to “survive” the twists and turns of serving our client, of working in a team and of recognizing the art of becoming.

Surviving is what we do while we wait for the last phase to arrive. Survival is what we do when we are not voted off the island. Survival is what we do when we are trying to get to the end, survival is what we do when we are in between the struggle and the art. Survival is the stuff of tv shows. Thriving is the stuff of transformation.

Today is the first day of our 39th training cycle and I am reminded once again of the power of beginnings. The amazing newness of the first day, the questions, the excitement, the doubt and scepticism and then the hope that leads us to dare to dream. We remind ourselves why we came, why we started this new adventure, because we wanted to change something, do something, earn something. We want to thrive.

Well in order to thrive we need to survive all that has come before, in fact we must see our past as the catalyst for today, an intricate web of experiences that shape the way we see the world and our role as actors in it - and now give ourselves acknowledgement for surviving it and permission to thrive.

It’s not that we can only move one jump it’s that we can only jump though one stage at a time and we can’t thrive until we acknowledge what it took to survive. In the words of Gloria Gaynor, I’ve got all my life to live and I’ve got all my love to give (but first) I will survive.

About Sandee

Sandee Kastrul's photo
I believe that the definition of leadership is making opportunities for others. I am a leadership geek and find that the richest opportunities for all of our futures lie in education. I am a believer in reciprocity in education and that as educators we are both teacher and student. I believe that the world can be a classroom if we open ourselves to the notion that application, concatenation and liberation start with listening. Schedule Sandee to Speak

About i.c.stars

i.c.stars is a non-profit organization in Chicago for adults with a high school diploma or GED. Using project-based learning and full immersion teaching, i.c.stars provides an opportunity for change-driven, future leaders to develop skills in business and technology. To learn more go to

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