Alex explains why tracking is so important in our personal and professional lives.

Leading a team on Zoom all day is challenging. Why not shake things up with a virtual adventure of a different kind?

Come tracking lions with us.

Following a fresh lion trail on foot is a thrilling experience. You are facing the world’s most charismatic animal. The uncertainty of what may happen focuses your mind – in a way that is primal.

Screengrab from Tracking Success virtual adventure

All your senses are alive.

Is that a paw print? Where are they going? Are they hunting? These are some of the questions that you ponder as you interpret their trail.

To close the gap on the lion, you must form a mental image of their activity – assembled from all your observations and previous experiences.

Invariably you lose track, which causes distress, but it’s part of the process.

And when you finally encounter them, they will glare at you with yellow eyes, growl, and occasionally charge up to you – causing adrenaline and cortisol to flood your body.

Charging lion. Photo by our friend, Rex Miller

Your success, your safety; is your ability to read the signs.

Tracking animals is not just an ancient African craft. It is also a powerful metaphor that allows us to find our way in a chaotic modern world.

To learn the principles of tracking and how to apply them in your life, join Tracking Success.

Screengrab from Tracking Success virtual adventure

FIND OUT HOW YOUR TEAM CAN BENEFIT. BOOK DEMO HERE

 

Reading time: 2.20 mins

Early in our careers as guides, Renias and I received a radio call that a female leopard was seen feeding on a bushbuck kill.

The announcement was specific about the location.

As we neared, Renias gestured for me to turn left.

‘That’s not the place,’ I said. ‘It’s to the right’.

‘Ok, but I think there’s a leopard over there,’ replied Renias indifferently, pointing to a large jackalberry tree.

‘Jika ximatsi’, he said.

By now our guests were raining questions on me. They were VIP’s and I felt compelled to show them a good sighting. And we had a reliable report which I intended to use.

There was no time to waste following Renias’s hunch.

‘Jika ximatsi..ximatsi means left’ repeated Renias, now irate with my apparent contrariness.. and the guests had noticed his displeasure with me.

Not wanting to make a scene I grudgingly swung the Land Rover eastwards – following his suggestion to go left.

About halfway along Renias said, ‘hatlisa (faster), the leopard is moving now’.

Moments later a magnificent female leopard emerged from the woodland. The guests were awestruck. ‘Renias is a genius!’ pronounced one of them. “He speaks squirrel!” exclaimed another.

Incredibly, he used a tree squirrel’s faint danger call to determine the leopard’s presence and to interpret its behaviour.

I came to learn that it’s nearly impossible to successfully track a leopard without considering the alarm calls made by other animals.

The truth is that I had no chance of finding it myself. If it weren’t for Renias, our VIPs would likely not have seen a leopard.

I was oblivious to an entire dimension of nature’s language. And I wasn’t even aware that I was unaware. I also lacked the technical ability to recognise the omnipresent chirps of intelligence all around me.

And the pressure to deliver for my guests caused me to become hyper-focused – further impairing my awareness.

Our everyday lives are filled with signals – many of which go totally unnoticed.

My friend Grant Ashfield says, ‘An alarm call is a message from the future – it represents danger, the need to slow down, be vigilant and pay attention’.

And they come in many forms…

Niggling feelings of restlessness, apprehension, or recurring mistakes, maybe the first signs that you’re losing track.

For leaders, dull meetings, poor trust, people operating in silos, and lacking accountability – are clues that the team is in peril.

For organisations, the departure of good people, the entry of a competitor, and diminishing engagement – are signals.

The difficulty is that most signals are as faint as a squirrel’s call among the cacophony of others. And they’re often inconvenient too – the timing doesn’t necessarily suit.

The irony is that warning signs lead to opportunity – either from wisdom gained by avoiding danger, or the realisation of a goal – like finding a leopard.

The biggest threat of all is choosing to ignore the signs. Or being reluctant to act.

Noticing an alarm call is the first step in the journey of change – towards greater prospects.

Expert wildlife trackers rely on nature’s signs to find the animals they pursue. And for their safety.

Spend 5 minutes thinking about alarm calls you may have noticed in the last 24 hours. Can you interpret them, and more importantly, are you prepared to act on them?

Sign up for Tracking Success. We dedicate one of our campfire conversations to discussing alarm calls in our professional lives.