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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

From surviving to thriving: 6 things that will happen

“We live in a society where the best adjusted person is constantly consuming; working too much; and not asking too many questions”. Jack Kornfield.

This is the formula for surviving…

If you feel something is off when trying to live by this model, it’s because a deeper part of you wants to emerge and get you to thrive. So it might be an idea to give it some attention, no?...Even if you eventually decide that surviving is better…

Last month, I did a few coaching session at a conference for doctors exploring alternative careers. Career diversification is a growing movement, for better or for worse…The 21st Century labour market continues to change at an astounding pace in part due to technology. Some call it the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

During the coaching conversations, I noticed that the number of career options available created a degree of choice anxiety. Medicine has a pretty rigid career structure with limited choice so looking beyond that feels like a jungle…

This is where conferences can help us grow in more ways than one…


In a knowledge economy, your networks are a large part of your social capital. It reflects our need for belonging as well as the latent tribalism and hierarchical power dynamics that still inform our social interactions.

There was a time when my training as a bright young doctor headed for an international career involved conference hopping. I remember the excitement of the first – an international conference on peace making through scientific collaboration in Cambridge, UK.

I also remember that I had a student mentality to start with (which is never a bad thing): identifying all the useful sessions to go to; and debating the ideas afterwards.

Eventually, it became obvious that sharing technical knowledge was not the only purpose of conferences, at least if you’re more senior in the power hierarchy. I started noticing the side meetings, social grooming and political subtext.

As I also reconnected with my innate social sensitivity, through personal development, conferences started to become unbearable – too much noise, mixed signals and an emotional load to process. It felt like a hostile environment and triggered survival reflexes to shut down and withdraw.

Until I learned to focus and started thriving again.

One major thing happened: I let go of the guilt of not meeting external expectations e.g. that I had to attend this or that. A slight challenge for someone with the discipline of a Soviet-like education system. But I became more conscious and deliberate about aligning my activities for a conference with my own values.

I used intuition to guide me as to who to speak to, when to speak up and when to take a break; and was careful not to be influenced by herd mentality and power dynamics that would trigger survival reflexes.

Suddenly, the opportunities to connect with the right people arose spontaneously and I would get invited to interesting side events.

Less guilt, more joy, better outcomes => thriving.


Whether you’re choosing your next career move or who to speak to at a conference, the basic problem your brain is trying to solve is the same: is this an efficient use of resources?

If you’re in a panic, your problem is compounded: your brain thinks you’re short on time. This is usually not the case (unless you’re running from a sabre-tooth tiger. Navigating a career or conference does not count as a life-threatening situation even if it feels like it…)

The combination of panic and multiple options is deadly: it intensifies your anxiety…Imagine running away from a tiger and being presented with a map with several routes you could take to escape. It’s going to make you panic even more because stopping to think will lead to certain death. You have to keep running and hope a tree presents itself.

So in making a choice, you should always check in to see if you’re in a panic or heightened state of emotion. If you are, it’s best to step back and deactivate the panic before making a decision. Otherwise, you’ll pour oil on the fire. This is SUPER important. [See the video if you need convincing]

Of course, you may simply choose to take a leap and see what happens. The point is to avoid getting caught in analysis paralysis that spirals into a chronic state of indecision and anxiety. A very inefficient use of your time and energy.

As you start to prioritise the deactivation of chronic survivalism in the first world lifestyle, you’ll notice the quiet joy pervading existence with its ups, downs and plateaus. More energy will become available and you’ll invest it in the right things (even if it feels uncomfortable to start with). It’s a life’s work but signs you’re out of chronic surviving and into thriving include:

1) Serendipity: - Helpful coincidences will happen. Things you couldn’t have planned but that create a wonderful opportunity or shortcut to your goal will come your way.

2) Brilliant thoughts: - You’ll have ideas of better quality. They might be outside the box, they might not even work but you’ll get a sense of powerful, creative problem-solving.

3) Flow: - The sense that you’re surfing a wave will be there. You’re doing things without thinking about them too much and making progress. It feels like it’s not you taking the action and you feel much more ease.

4) Focus and clarity: - You’re doing one thing at a time and you don’t feel like you’re wasting time. You know that whatever you’re doing is what you’re meant to be doing at that time. Fewer distractions come in.

5) Less competition: - You know you’re unique and every experience provides you with contrast, experience or information to learn from. You can collaborate or negotiate without losing your balance.

6) A sense of quiet joy: - You’re not attached to the highs (although you might enjoy them for a few seconds) and the lows don't keep you down for long.

Where can you take a step back?

Have a good week,


Transformational Coach and Consultant


Two of my clients have completed their coaching process (one is off to the WHO and the other to the UN) and I’m opening two new coaching slots this month.

Interested in a six month career and life transformation process to create a career and life you love?

Results from past clients include:

  • their dream job in medicine

  • better relationships and team dynamics

  • consulting contracts with intergovernmental organisations

  • making a higher income than ever before through promotions or consulting

  • long term funding for passion projects

  • being more at ease and relaxed with their path.

See here for a range of testimonials.

The process may be suitable if:

  • you’re passionate and hard working but not sure how to move forward;

  • you’re going around in circles and your confidence is dropping;

  • you want to feel inspired and clear again, sharpening your strategy and strengthening your intuitive wisdom;

  • you want to use your talent to have a positive impact in world and use your medical or professional skills differently;

  • you have a niggling voice/inner-critic that holds you back and you’re fed up with it.

If you think that’s you, let’s find out! Applying: 1) Email with “I’m interested!” in the subject line 2) I’ll send you a questionnaire to fill in (this will be a useful exercise for you to get more clarity on your career and life) 3) If I think I can help you, I’ll invite you to a Career Turnaround Session (here we’ll go deeper into your career aspirations, what’s in the way and leave you with a plan and feeling inspired again!) 4) At the end, I’ll share my reflections and we’ll talk about whether there is scope to work together further.

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