10 things your business SHOULD learn from ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’

For some reason every time there is a new TV show, videogame or reality show I find myself making comparisons with business. Whether comparing sales to Pokemon GO or looking at what salespeople can learn from videogames – I’m always able to find something to take back to business.

What follows is what I learned from ‘The Island with Bear Grylls’.

1.      Knowing your weaknesses is just as important as knowing your strengths.

In a team environment (and even more so in a survival situation) you need to be absolutely clear on what you are definitely capable of, and where perhaps someone else may be better positioned to tackle that problem or task. Weaknesses are there to be worked on, however there is a time and a place for self-improvement, and that time is certainly not when there are other people depending on your success.

2.      Experience usually means you know at least one way to solve a problem.

This one is important. Just because you know one way to solve a problem does not mean it is the easiest, fastest or the best suited solution. The benefit of having a team with different points of views is that together you should be able to decide the best course of action. Do not let the assumption that having more experience means your ideas hold more value than someone with less.

3.      Prioritising can prove the difference between success and failure.

The young islanders nearly fell at the first hurdle, having dehydrated at an alarming rate over 3 days. They had failed to recognise the three major priorities for survival and their order; water, shelter, food. Had they realised that water would so quickly become an issue, perhaps they may have avoided an embarrassing trek to the ‘Older’ group in order to continue the challenge. By tackling the water issue early on, the ‘Older’ group were better positioned to help the ‘Younger’ group. What are your three major priorities and are your team aware of their importance?

4.      Pride isn’t worth Pain

We are all aware of the importance of not giving up – however we must be willing to accept when something simply isn’t going to work. On ‘The Island’, the now combined group built their original camp in a low-land bog that frequently flooded. Recognising the situation was worsening, they decided to move the whole camp to a more suitable location; the cost however was significant. Days of progress where lost and morale briefly suffered. However the position in which they now found themselves was greatly stronger than before, affording them the freedom to focus on food rather than the maintenance of the fire and camp.

5.      Positivity prevails

Negativity is the single biggest threat behind dehydration, exposure and starvation for a group in a survival situation. Once it takes hold of even one team member it can begin permeating the group; sapping vital energy and time and resulting in a huge decrease in productivity. Tackling issues as they arise should do much to disperse the gathering clouds, however if the situation is allowed to continue be prepared to make fair and decisive actions to resolve it including; removing the cause, changing the plan or changing the team.

6.      Know you’re team

Can you identify who is the best at tackling each task? If you have a difficult problem requiring a creative solution can you pick between five team members the person best suited to come up with the answer? Most often we like to think we can – however in every team skills are often overlooked in favour of experience. Make sure to keep an accurate SWOT analysis of your team and update it regularly. Simply knowing what they’re capable of should stand everyone in good stead.

7.      Be agile

If you are in a volatile or unpredictable environment then you must ensure you are set up to be as agile as possible. If you aren’t equipped to move quickly and change plans you will simply be left behind by those who are. On ‘The Island’, the individuals most willing to adapt to a change in circumstances were the ones who were better positioned to benefit from them. For example, a change in weather that lead to increased rain resulted in safe drinking water for the team members who had built funnels in order to store it.

8.      Can you recognise a vital resource?

This sounds like an easy question, however did every team member recognise the value of the cooking oil found whilst on ‘The Island?’ No. What resulted was a precious resource being wasted by one team member to solve a comparatively easy problem, one that did not require the oil. Can your team be guilty of wasting resources? Can they waste time or money in pursuit of low priority results? Ensure your colleagues are aware of the cost in resources their actions incur.

9.      You need a leader

Every team needs and effective leader, whether trying to survive a hostile island or when running a business. Remember that as a leader you are required to inspire and unite your team around a common goal. Consider yourself a facilitator of the team’s decisions and reach as many of these by consensus as possible. Where a consensus is out of reach, take decisive action and ensure that you win the backing of those opposed with clear and confident language.

10.  Be courageous

As with anything in life, everything is a measure of risk vs reward. At their lowest, the group on ‘The Island’ were close to starvation when an opportunity to tackle a saltwater crocodile presented itself. After a quick assessment, the team decided to take it down; a risky decision but the rewards were great – and it paid off. Be prepared to roll the dice once in a while, the rewards can far outweigh the risks.

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