SwaSurv 11-07-107

Surviving Your Serengeti

7 Skills to Master Business and Life


Stefan Swanepoel

Wiley, 2011, 176 pp.  ISBN 978-0-470-94780-7


In this interesting tale, travelers on safari discover the unique strengths that allow wild animals to survive in Africa's Serengeti.  The author applies these strengths to helping individuals identify their core skills.  Each chapter ends with a summary of the skill and some tips on maximizing it for today's business environment.  The author was raised in Kenya, Hong Kong, and South Africa.  He runs a New York-based global franchise network.  


As we study the animals' particular skills, we can better comprehend our own strengths and weaknesses and learn how to apply them.  The Serengeti is exceptional because it isolates the core survival skills so unmistakably. 


Wildebeests outnumber all the other animals but they are very vulnerable.  Their core skill is endurance, the skill of steadfastly holding on.  They keep plodding.  People tend to give up too soon.  They need to pace themselves.  And it's much easier together.  Endurance is applying oneself for long periods of time. 


Lions are strategic.  They hunt in carefully choreographed packs, every step carefully planned with extreme cooperation, each lion executing its role.  They must plan and execute well or go without breakfast.


Crocodiles are enterprising.  They can't chase their prey; they have to wait for it to come to them.  When the wildebeests make their river crossing, the crocs have to evaluate each opportunity carefully so they get dinner while avoiding being crushed in the stampede. 


The cheetah is efficient.  She can run up to 70 miles an hour, but only for a short distance.  And it totally wears her out for about 20 minutes.  So she has to make sure she can capture her dinner within her energy span.  She can't afford to chase multiple opportunities. 


Giraffes are graceful.  Grace emphasizes that we must be grateful, even when things don't go our way.  It's a golden thread that keeps life in balance and it's expressed in many qualities.  [This is perhaps not a very good description of the qualities that help giraffes survive, which include the ability to see danger at a distance and a good walloping kick that can fracture a lion's head or spine.  Dlm]


The mongoose is a risk-taker.  Dealing with adversity includes evaluating all the options, considering whether the risk is acceptable. 


Elephants communicate.  They are among the most intelligent animals. 


So what's your critical survival skill?  Do you know?  Do you know how to maximize it and to support and supplement the other areas?