The wilderness is one of the perfect spots for learning.
This is why one of my favourite channels on television is National Geographic. There are also many interesting lessons from marine biology. I walked into a shop of a good friend of mine, and in the dressing room was a quote about shark mentality. This inspired curiosity in me to read into this.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word shark? Sharp teeth, mean-eater, violent creatures? They’re often labelled as dangerous, indiscriminate killers that eat anything in sight. On the ground, however, sharks are most often the victims. They’re often hunted and killed by the millions annually to supply demand for their fins, which are made into soup and eaten as a status symbol.
The narrative that has grown to be popular is a result of sensationalism and the work of public media which has caused sharks to be viewed in bad light. Thirty years ago the blockbuster Jaws brought the fear, and terror of shark attack to movie theatres. The record-breaking film, based on a best-selling novel by Peter Benchley was directed by Steven Spielberg. It grossed nearly 130 million dollars (U.S.) in the United States alone. One of the greatest achievements of this movie was to make sharks the number one enemy of the public.
You cannot ignore sharks
Whether you like them or not, one thing you cannot do is to ignore sharks in the marine food chain. They have dominated their area, and have grown to be a feared creature in their domain. We can certainly learn something about sharks’ secrets of success from understanding their mentality.
How do they operate and why do they do what they do? One thing that you will notice from studying sharks is their understanding of collaborative effort. Big as they are, they understand that they need to work with smaller fish called suckerfish to deal with the parasites that plague them. Sharks provide protection for the suckerfish, which eat the parasites, and in turn, they are able to focus on bigger things; dominate the seas.
There are six principles that you can learn from Sharks and apply them in your personal life, and business. I discuss them in turn below.
- Sharks never stop moving forward
The moment that a shark stops swimming is the moment it dies. This is a profound statement. When you stop moving that is the moment you begin to die. Sharks never stop moving and neither should you! National Geographic writes that, some sharks must swim constantly to “breathe” oxygen from water passing through their gills.
Other species can achieve this while stationary. As the shark is moving it is pumping life into itself. We must embrace this principle that when we keep moving we pump life into ourselves. I am not a drinker, but I agree with Johnny Walker’s signature, which says, “Keep Walking”. That is the attitude we need to have in this life.
You are going to experience challenges in life, but you need to make a commitment to keep moving regardless of how difficult the situation may be. Do not let the challenges stop you, let them fuel you to keep moving. Keep taking action.
Sharks often suffer setbacks in form of loss of teeth, but rather than cry over lost teeth they actually replace lost teeth in as little as 24 hours and may use thousands of teeth over the course of a lifetime. Learn to gather yourself, and dust up yourself when you suffer a setback, and keep moving. Sharks are even more interesting; one research found out that sharks do not sleep, but, they experience alternating periods of activity and rest.
Keep moving! In today’s world be it in business, sports, politics, relationships, etc., people glamourise big steps, fast growth, huge product launch etc. This is what often receives massive attention on our social media platforms. That is what is often talked about and celebrated celebrate. People rarely celebrate baby steps, forgetting that even these baby steps are steps. Celebrate walking or crawling. By consistently doing so, you will make significant progress.
Civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. once remarked, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” These words are immortal and should guide all of us in our approach to life and business. Keep moving forward. Like the shark, you are ridiculously in charge of moving forward.
- Sharks never look down; they always look up (focus)
What you focus on grows, and what you neglect dies. That is the law of focus. Sharks only focus on what’s above or in front of them, never what’s beneath them. If you want to be at the top of your food chain, you have to think and act positively. Focus on things that are important.
Commit your finest attention to your finest priorities. In a highly distractive environment, you need to learn to focus. Don’t deal in the petty stuff that’s beneath you, focus on what will bring success. Effective people don’t major in the minors; major in the majors.
Keep your eyes on the target
A story is told about a certain Master who wanted to show his students a new technique of shooting an arrow. He told his students to cover his eyes with a cloth and then he shot his arrow. When he opened his eyes, he saw the target with no arrow in it and when he looked at his students, they looked embarrassed because their teacher had missed it.
The Master asked them, “What lesson do you think I intend to teach you all today?” They answered, “We thought you would show us how to shoot at the target without looking.”
The Master said, “No, I taught you that if you want to be successful in life, don’t forget the target. You have to keep an eye on the target; otherwise, you may miss a good opportunity in life.” The students looked at each other in awe and admiration of the profound principle that they had been taught. This is what we need to do as well in our lives, to keep our eyes on the target and shoot.
“Focus is the key to accomplish what is necessary — easy word to spell, it contains only five letters but it is probably one of the most powerful words there are in order to move forward with confidence and with the expected results.” (Byron Pulsifer)
Successful people live their lives with great focus. They know what they want, and they put their mind to achieving that specific goal. The problem with many people is never lack of energy or motivation, but lack of focus. A person who is going in the wrong direction does not need motivation; he needs to stop. It is quite possible to be motivated in the wrong direction. However, if all your energy is focused in the right direction, success is inevitable.
We do strategic planning sessions, set goals, and leave the sessions sometimes very confident that things are going to happen, but why is it that there is no change in your organisation or in your personal life? Setting goals is one thing and achieving them.
Goal setting and planning alone does not guarantee success, but FOCUSING on the execution of that particular goal and plan does. There is power in positive focus. The challenge with most people, organisations is lack of focus. What you focus on grows, and what you neglect dies.
You can also be a hard worker, and very disciplined in all other areas, but if you are not disciplined in terms of positive focus you will not make much headway in achieving your goals. Thelma Barnes, in her book, “Practice Persistence: Applying Perseverance and Discipline to Achieve Your Goals”, captures the principle more interestingly, “Persistence only works when you are clear and sure of the objectives of your efforts. Without this focus, you can still practice persistence but it will not give you the results that you want.”
Learn from the sharks and stay focused!
To be continued next week. Do not miss out!
Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney, keynote speaker, corporate and personal branding speaker commanding the stage with his delightful humour, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. He is a financial wellness expert and is passionate about addressing the issues of wellness, strategy and personal and professional development. Arthur is the author of “Toys for Adults” a thought provoking book on entrepreneurship, and “No one is Coming” a book that seeks to equip leaders to take charge. Send your feedback to [email protected] or Visit his website www.arthurmarara.com or contact him on WhatsApp: +263780055152.