Some flint, a water bottle, and a knife. That’s all Bear Grylls has with him when he gets “lost” on Man vs. Wild.
In each episode of Man vs. Wild, Bear strands himself in popular wilderness destinations where tourists often find themselves lost or in danger. As he finds his way back to civilization, he demonstrates local survival techniques, including escaping quicksand in the Moab Desert, navigating dangerous jungle rivers in Costa Rica, crossing ravines in the Alps and surviving sharks off Hawaii.
I admit the show is pretty ridiculous: He’s stuck in the frozen tundra but stops to demonstrate how to climb out of a frozen lake!? What’s the crew up to while he is starving/freezing? You have to take the whole thing with a big grain of salt.
But it’s also damn compelling. Even if you never venture into the wild, it’s fascinating to watch him catch and eat snakes, bugs, and fish, build shelters, snow caves, and rafts, find utility in urine and dung, etc. Discovery.com has some clips and a list of survival tips from the show.
Some of the lessons he offers sound ripe for being turned into a business “survival” guide too. For example:
The way out of jungle or mountains? Find a stream or river and follow it.
You never know how steep something is until you “rub noses with it.” From far away, you can’t really judge.
Survival is about playing the odds. Expect to fail before you succeed.
Building a fire is a great way to boost morale. And keeping morale up is the key to survival.
Never rely on one source for catching food. If you set up a fishing net, go out and start hunting for something else.
Do your homework before going on a trip — know the local geography and what’s edible there.
Expect luck in your life. “People come through hopeless situations because they push themselves to extraordinary places.”
Grylls’ gives motivational speeches and his site lists some of the topics he talks about.
On giving extra…
The difference between ordinary and extra-ordinary is so often just simply that little word – extra. And for me, I had always grown up with the belief that if someone succeeds it is because they are brilliant or talented or just better than me…and the more of these words I heard the smaller I always felt! But the truth is often very different…and for me to learn that ordinary me can achieve something extra-ordinary by giving that little bit extra, when everyone else gives up, meant the world to me and I really clung to it.
A realisation that the qualities needed for effective leadership can be learnt. That real leader’s inspire a feel-good factor around them; you want to be with them regardless. That we all perform better when we are appreciated and encouraged and valued. That leader’s think bigger, and differently. They inspire those around them to go that little bit further, to perform that little bit better, and feel that little bit stronger.
Bear is only too aware that an effective team on a high mountain relies on honest communication. Having a shared purpose, a culture of can-do and want-to; rather than politics or one-up-man-ship. Encouraging faith in each other, encouraging trust, and an ability to share weaknesses as well as strengths. An awareness that vulnerability creates bonds, and where there are bonds there is strength. A determination to make it together, where humility is a virtue and kindness really matters.
A bit cheesy? Sure. But when eating live snakes and maggots is just a normal day at the office, you’re allowed to sprinkle on some cheese.