Mindset change: Surviving the serengeti of life


Life is a continuous struggle. Every day humans are in a fierce competition for resources, honour, power, visibility and recognition. Human living and human existence is a continuous battle with written battle lines that are invincible. Companies are in a brutal fight for customers, employees are in a tough fight to ensure that they remain relevant to the organisations they work for and eventually keep their positions with a great possibility for promotions.

Students in schools and colleges are brutally fighting for tomorrow. Their lecturers and teachers are waging a war for the recognition of producing the best students. The play field is not level and can never be level, it is the battle for survival. But animals offer the best lessons in survival and there is no place on earth where struggle is a continuous place than the plains of the Serengeti national park where animals have to survive day in day out.

Stephen Berry clearly highlights that in our commercial world we continue to observe champions of previous decades becoming the carcass of the current decade. In our business environment we continue to see the continued use of strategies which were once successful but now been rendered obsolete. Technologies change, markets change, perceptions change, managerial fashions change and all will only continue to do so at an ever increasing speed.


Berry continues, “the animals of the Serengeti, by the very longevity of the strategies they have perfected, and their ongoing success, have the ability to demonstrate to us a series of strategies which transcend the dry seasons of recessions, the perilous river crossings of take over predators, the seasonal diversity of transient opportunities and the unequal economic rainfall of fluctuating consumer demands.

On an individual level, those that will achieve are those that have mastered the intelligence of survival. The zebras that have crossed the Mara river several times and survived the jaws of the crocodiles are the most likely to survive the next Mara river crossing. In the very same regard, it is those people that have failed again and again in different endeavours that will achieve greatness. They have lived with failure and have mastered the art of courage and are ready to move forward.”

Describing one of the factors that propelled him to success, the great basketball star Michael Jordan said that it is all because he failed and failed often that eventually he became successful.


At the Mara crossing, the animals that fear to cross are easily swayed away by the heavy water current. It is no different from humans. It is only the risk takers that make, those that are ready to die for their beliefs. People do not choose politicians; politicians chose themselves. We do not choose presidents; presidents firstly believed that they could be one then and put themselves on nomination. We only confirm their presidential credentials. There are many people that think they can become leaders but have never attempted to cross the Mara river of disbelief and self doubt in themselves. It is only when you wade through the tides of strong opposition that you triumph.

Companies that are cracking in Malawi and the world all over are due to their inability to comprehend the drought changes such as consumers’ behaviour. In the very end they never went close to the rivers of researching for consumers’ needs to excite them. They stuck in one position and eventually dried with the sun as the economic water levels of their customers dried. These companies never had the vision of the giraffe to see dangers and come up with survival strategies. Animals that stuck in one place despite seeing an army of lions approaching them have nobody to blame when they are devoured. Life has no mercy on anybody; life is a struggle and an unending battle for survival.

Institutions that have been successful have had the lion mentality. Lions are the most effective hunters as they work as a team to kill prey. With lions, there is complex division of labour in hunting. Successful institutions have departments that work hand in hand, are able to support each other and cherish their overall success. Institutions that are failing to deliver are those that have their departments working as silos. In such institutions there is no connection between the marketing and finance departments, human resources and legal. In general sense, there is total anarchy; they concentrate on conserving and protecting departmental power than working towards the overall objective of the institutions.

Lions show us coordination of resources, the giraffe teaches us vision.

Berry associates elephants with knowledge, zebras with response to threats, hippos with being in the right place, cheetahs with first mover advantage, warthogs with protecting vulnerability, rhinos with keeping ongoing, wildebeest with safety in numbers, hyenas with benefiting from others, crocodiles with stealth and ambush and ostriches with bluff. Choose your strategy if you have to survive in the Serengeti of life

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