I wonder what my students and clients would say if they learnt that some of my theories came from observing animals?
We may claim that man is intellectually a more evolved creature, yet deep down we still possess many animalistic tendencies and therefore act as programmed by our survival instincts and social conditioning.
Here is an example from my own life.
Exceptional circumstances demand exceptional responses. Desperate people drowning in problems will reach out at anything and everything they can grasp to stop them from sinking.
Not long ago I experienced a painful separation from my brothers, the loss of my business and all my savings. Getting a job was not for me. I am too independent spirited to be dictated to. Desperately I sought new opportunities and avenues for survival and revival.
I pursued almost every opportunity that came my way and tried my hand at numerous types of work but failed to understand why I kept on not succeeding. Two seemingly unrelated incidents one evening provided me an answer.
Earlier that evening stray dogs in the area near my apartment chased vehicles as usual. Even though I am a dog lover the commotion was a bit of a nuisance. Later that night I observed a program on tigers on television with my family. Voila! I discovered the flaw in my approach.
First the dogs they love nothing more than a good chase. The fun is in the chase, in the city it could a bike or an automobile or just a person jogging, dogs love to run after them but hardly ever catch anything.
In this world there is no dearth of ideas and suggestions. In my eagerness, like the dogs, I was fruitlessly chasing every opportunity, wasting precious resources on things and opportunities that were mirages, or just inappropriate for me or my capabilities.
Never catching anything, the dogs achieved nothing except to make a lot of commotion and getting so exhausted they soon find it difficult to even respond to a real situation.
As I too grew exhausted I was seized by a sense of having become a permanent failure. I was running after every opportunity and had wasted all my energy and resources. Finally listening to my wife's advice, I decided to stop actively pursuing all opportunities until I figured out what I wanted and where I wanted to go.
I slowed down and tried to still my raging mind, gathered my wits about me. After a couple of months I charted a new and focused course. With intense focus on the right objective, a realistic strategy, garnering necessary resources and sincere effort like the tiger have never looked back again.
It is easy to generalise and I would say that my experiences cannot be copied blindly. The key is to understand oneself and what our goals are. This must precede any strategic initiative. Simple as it may sound, few take the time and make the effort to know themselves. Here are some variations to this theory of mine.
- Variation 1: People and organisations who possess significant funds but no focus are like the city dog, wasting resources with little or no success.
- Variation 2: Those who possess resources and clear focus hunt like a pack of wild dogs and achieve even fantastic results.
- Variation 3: Those with limited resources and highly focused hunt like the tiger and often achieve good success.
Not surprisingly even cats and dogs can teach us a lot about life and how to respond to challenges that face us.