Did you know that frogs are one of the most sensitive creatures in the world to changes in environment? They are known as the litmus test for pollution because the minute a landscape is contaminated in any way the population of frogs starts to die out. They need completely stable, perfectly balanced contexts to survive.
Lions are different. My brother is an award winning wildlife photographer and takes guests on safari. One of his beloved places is the Okavango. Here, like lions everywhere, the prides prefer to hunt at night. They like dining on tasty buck and are not particularly fond of water.
However, during the floods their environment radically changes. Their prey leave for drier pastures but because lion are fiercely territorial they can’t follow. So they remain in a now water sodden land with the main meal on the menu — buffalo.
Now buffalo sleep at night, hunched together in an impenetrable fortress. They are also huge, intimidating and not afraid to fight back!
So the lions have devised a very clever strategy. They have no other choice than to hunt during the day. But to pull down their large, tight-knit prey they harry and drive the herd into the channels of water. The pull of the water and the weight of the mud then begin to slow down the weakest and youngest and the lion can pick them off.
Lion are found in every terrain on the planet, from savannah to deserts, from mountains to coasts. Lions are not the “king of the beasts” because they are strong and dominant. It’s because they are highly adaptable.
In some ways I’m a frog. Tea can only be drunk from a thin-lipped cup. I’ve worked out which movie house in Joburg I prefer to go to and I will never ever like brussel sprouts!
In other ways I am a lion. I have moved country. I have lived in nearly 20 different houses. I have travelled to every continent except South America. I’ve morphed from a parent of babies to the parent of adult children — lots of adapting there! And my work life has changed from perpetual student to community development to spiritual director to businesswoman.
Then over 15 years my business has grown and been shaped by new material, a range of rich partnerships, changing markets, and different clients. It’s no longer a simple training and development company offering short courses in life skills and it is also no longer solely dependent on me. Courses have become projects and self-employed has become co-ordinator of a team.
Even now I am on a learning curve to re-invent what I do and what my business looks like to take advantage of the digital revolution.
But more than adapting to and even driving change so that you create something better for yourself and others, I am struck by the lion’s ability to work positively in adverse conditions. When things are not going my way and the situation less than favourable, how do I find what is to my advantage and capitalize on it?
We have a simple but powerful phrase at WISDOMS™ — “flip it”. When you are getting bogged down in negativity or can’t see a way through a problem, flip it. In other words, turn it upside down and inside out. Look at the opposite. Change your perspective so that what you are seeing as bad or frustrating is now viewed as good and enlightening.
That little switch in the brain has an incredible effect. Suddenly problems look like opportunities and energy starts flowing to at least explore and test something new and different whereas before I’d been stuck.
So are you a frog or a lion? How has your environment changed or is changing? How can you make it work for you?