Are you the Hunter or the Hunted?
Surviving or thriving the Jungle of Life
Years ago I worked as a young, hungry investment advisor on Bay Street, Toronto. Bay Street was the heart of the financial services industry in Canada. It was the home of the Toronto Stock Exchange and the headquarters of every major financial institution in Canada. This was where the action was. I felt like a modern day soldier going into battle, wearing my fancy suit, carrying my briefcase while attempting to close business with anyone who would listen to me. My suit was my armor. My briefcase was my shield and my pen was my sword. I was one of many “suits” hunting for the next deal and determined to make a name for ourselves. Everyday I would look around downtown and see well dressed guys just like me living in this dog eat dog environment. It was ruthless, scary and exciting all at the same time. I loved it!
It was the summer of 2008 and I was on the floor of the New York Stock exchange. I remember one afternoon seeing the frenzy of activity that caused everyone in the building to feel this sense of panic. I looked up at the stock ticker symbols to see an ocean of red. This was a bad sign as the stock market was plummeting. The stock market wasn’t just down, it was collapsing. The basis of our entire financial system was in turmoil. There I was in the heart of the 2008 Financial Crisis, the worst global economic disaster since the Great Depression of 1929 wondering what in the world was happening. As I observed the commotion, this trader turned to me and said “This is an absolute bloodbath. Kid, it’s a jungle out there and you need to learn to survive or this world will eat you up.”
That advice still rings true today as we do live in a concrete jungle. My colleagues and I would joke around and ask, ”How do you survive a bear attack in the woods? You out run your friend who you are camping with!”
I remember reading the 2005 best selling book by Thomas Friedman called “The World is Flat”. In this book he recounts a tale he labeled “An African Proverb”. I have also seen it on a motivational poster titled “The Essence of Survival”. It goes as follows:
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are the lion or a gazelle- when the sun comes up, you’d better be running “
Lions represent the leaders of the market. He is fierce and feeds on his competition. He swallows up the slowest, weakest gazelles without mercy. In his eyes, this is life and he’s doing what is natural to him. There are few lions and only the best animals can become lions in the field. This is why we call him the King of the Jungle.
Gazelles are abundant. They are common and they are everywhere. Gazelles symbolize the herd of average people. You know who they are as they are also known as sheep in some social circles. You don’t have to be the best to survive, you must only be faster than your slowest competition to win another day of life.
Lions are masterful hunters who need a high level of skill to reign over their kingdom.
Gazelles need average standards to get by. They often fly under the radar and can be forgotten in a social circle. They feel secure in the safety of their crowd. The gazelle believes in the illusion of safety in the herd. Yet deep down inside they know one will die today. They just hope it’s not them.
Why is this story of the Lion or the Gazelle important? Whether it’s business, career, social climbing, personal life if you want more out of life you cannot be the gazelle. If you want to reign over your kingdom you have to be a lion and master the skills required to be a king. It all starts in your mindset and how you see yourself. Ask yourself are you a lion or are you a gazelle? Are you a hunter or are you the hunted?
Whatever the average person does, do the opposite. The most highly successful people create winning habits and do the opposite of the average person. This is why they are extraordinary. If you do the opposite of the ordinary and resist the urge to follow the herd, logically you will succeed with results unique to your efforts.
Pareto’s Principle states that for many events, roughly 20 percent of your actions will create 80 percent of your results. This is also known as the law of vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity. In the animal kingdom, lions represent the 5% of the animals that control 95% of the gazelles. In the concrete jungle of North America, 1% controls 99% of the world’s wealth.
If this principle holds true, why would anyone want to be a gazelle when you could be a lion. It starts with how you see yourself and your belief that you either are a lion or can become a lion. You must make a commitment and always see yourself in this way.
Find people who are lions and seek out mentorship. Surround yourself around a pride of other lions and avoid the herd of gazelle.
Ask yourself the following:
How many books have you read in the last 12 months to improve yourself?
How many coaches or mentors have you worked with over the last 12 months?
How many seminars, networking events or conferences have you attended?
If you answered zero to any, odds are you are becoming a gazelle. While you can, change your mindset and go out and rule the way you are meant to. Find your inner lion.