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NIëL STEINMANN PRESENTING LESSONS FROM LIONS 10 | April 2016
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Lesson 10: "Hunger" is a prerequisite for success...
Lions are fascinating creatures to watch. This is especially true when you are in open vehicles, often just a few metres away from them. It is hard to keep your eyes off a wild lion, its face smeared with blood. It's more than just the visual spectacle-there is something very ancient about our relationship with lions, a fascination with these powerful creatures that hunt for a living. They can be cruel and brutal yet also beautiful and fascinating. A bit like people, I suppose it is their power that we respect and their qualities that we admire.
When you experience the spectacle and intensity of lions hunting buffalo, it could easily be described as the ultimate battle. An encounter billed as "The will to survive against the hunger to succeed."

Buffalo are quite impressive animals. They are fearless and will not hesitate to attack lions when they can. The old bulls, with faces and horns normally covered in mud, are referred to as “Dagga boys” and are the most brazen individuals. When a buffalo has been knocked down by lions, these “dagga boys” will exhort the herd to join and will almost always attempt a rescue by charging in to drive the lions away—even if the buffalo has been down for as long as 30 minutes. In the process they could even kill those that hunt them.

Despite these dangers, lions are relentless hunters, driven by hunger. In order to catch a buffalo, they will jump on the buffalo's back, a strategy to avoid those dangerous horns. Once on the buffalo’s back, they will hang on for dear life. The goal will be to get the buffalo to stumble. Often the buffalo would succeed to shrug off the lions, but as soon as it is down, the lions will act swiftly before the animal has an opportunity to attract the attention of other buffalo. Lions are stranglers and will suffocate their prey. They either sink their teeth in the underside of the neck to collapse the trachea or they bite over the mouth and nose of the prey. Possibly to avoid the animal from attracting unwanted attention. Either way it is a relatively slow suffocation that kills the animal. This can take as long as an half an hour and this is an extremely dangerous period for the lions hunting buffalo. Their focus should be on making the kill but also to be aware of the danger of other approaching buffalo.

Ultimately hunger is a driving force for success and lions will show that sheer unwavering determination, tenacity and perseverance when they hunt these dangerous animals.

For us these qualities constitute Resilience. It is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, amongst them, a hunger to succeed, a positive attitude, optimism and the ability to control emotions.  After misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.

This means that it's not just talent that matters but also character. "Unless you're a genius, I don't think that you can ever do better than your competitors without a a hunger to succeed.

Nomsa and Victor, two Mining employees, were laid off by their companies 18 months ago. Both went into a tailspin: They were angry, listless, indecisive, and anxious about the future. For Nomsa, the mood was only temporary. After two weeks she told herself, “It’s not you; it’s Commodity prices and the economy that are going through a bad patch. I’m good at what I do, and there will always be a market for my skills. I have set goals for my career and want to succeed” She updated her résumé and sent it to a dozen firms, all of which rejected her. She then tried four companies in the North West province and eventually landed a position. Victor, by contrast, spiralled into hopelessness: “I got fired because I can’t perform under pressure and don’t have what they want” he thought. “I’m not cut out for Mining. The economy and commodity prices will take years to recover.” Even as the market improved, he didn’t look for another job; he ended up moving back in with his parents.

Nomsa and Victor stand at opposite ends of the continuum of reactions to day to day challenges. The Nomsas of the world bounce back after a brief period of malaise within a year they’ve grown because of the experience.

The Victors go from sadness to depression to a paralyzing fear of the future and failure. It is people like Nomsa who rise to the top, and whom organizations must recruit and retain in order to succeed. Maybe Nomsa was born a "stronger" person, or maybe Victor's parents are less supportive than Nomsa’s.  While this may all be true, one factor supersedes the influences of genes, childhood experiences, and opportunity or wealth when it comes to resilience. In fact, according to decades of research, the biggest influence on resilience is something within our control. The biggest influence is our cognitive style -- the way we think.
Like hunger being a driving force for lions, so can optimism, and resilience be a force to drive the Nomsas of this world.


Remember:  "your hunger to succeed needs to be greater than the fear of failure.".

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