The Great Migration of the Serengeti has much to teach us about our efforts in the business world. Almost 2 million animals make the 1800 mile journey each year as they fight to survive predators, drought, and fire. Hmmm… Sound like a regular day at the office? Here are a few lessons from the grassy plains, savannas, rivers, and gorges of the African Serengeti.
GATHER WITH OTHERS: Herds of zebras, gazelles, and wildebeests travel together. At night, the Zebras post guards, or sentries, that warn the large group of nocturnal predators. The animals find ‘safety’ in numbers. People find ‘synergies’ in numbers: complementary skill sets, creative ideas, new business contacts, and camaraderie.
ZIG-ZAG: In the heat of a chase, a gazelle (regardless of age, size or health) can be seen zigging and zagging to avoid being captured by wild-dogs or hyenas. In business, we may need to zig and zag out of a stale routine or ‘comfort zone’. Trying something new or taking a calculated risk may prove to be the difference between survival and demise.
NEVER GIVE UP: Have you ever seen National Geographic footage of a wildebeest catching a glimpse of the pursuing lion over its shoulder, slow to a trot, and then just sit down? No, the hunted never give up in the wild. With one goal in mind (survival), they fight to escape or fight to the bitter end with all the strength and perseverance they have.
STAY ON GUARD: Annually, the herbivores of the Great Migration cross the Mara River twice as they circle the Serengeti. When they drink, the younger and inexperienced animals often fall prey to ‘floating logs with eyes’ –better known as 1000lb fresh water crocodiles. These crocs move toward the unsuspecting animal with nary a ripple in the water only to snatch up an entire wildebeest for dinner! For what should you be on guard? Where are you getting too comfortable?
RECOVER QUICKLY: Especially during droughts, fires dot the grassy landscape. Smoke from these fires serves as a warning to the migrating animals. But, regardless of the length or duration of detour around the flames, the herd always returns to the best path. In the same way, our businesses may be forced to deviate from the plan due to unforeseen obstacles, but we should always get back on track as fast as possible.
PROTECT THE ROOTS: A savanna fire will scorch the surface of the earth, destroying the vegetation on which so many animals depend. But, following the next rain, the grass begins to regrow! Only the surface is damaged, leaving the protected roots healthy and intact. What ‘roots’ need protection in your business? What rejuvenates you?
The word “safari”, in Kiswahili, means “journey”. I submit all business leaders and owners are on a journey of some sort. And when being under fire or experiencing the gnashing of teeth seems like a regular day at the office –I hope you can draw from the lessons from the Serengeti and enjoy the scenery along the way!
Sources: National Geographic Channel’s “Real Serengeti” and www.serengeti.org
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.