The TV series “I Should Not Be Alive” invites survivors to narrate how they overcame the odds in life-threatening survival situations like being trapped on a mountain cliff, being lost in a jungle, or being adrift at sea. After watching over a dozen episodes, I realized that there are valuable lessons that we can learn from their survival experience. Here are some of the salient lessons which you may find useful in business and management as we try to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.
1) Do not panic and control your emotions. There comes the point when the survivors realize that they are in a bad situation, and they may not be able to make it out alive. They often feel fear and hopelessness about their situation. However, many of them made a conscious effort to control their emotions. Once they have placed their emotions in check, it was easier for them to think logically, consider their options, develop a plan, and take action that could save their lives. This lesson helps us make good business decisions. Take time to reflect so that your decisions are driven by facts and strong business logic rather than emotions like fear, anger or frustration.
2) Think logically and develop a plan. Survivors based their strategies and decisions on known facts, which helped them set objectives and manage risks. Having a plan kept them focused and guided them in making decisions and allocating resources. This lesson reminds us to make plans or business decisions based on facts. This will also help us evaluate and manage the risks associated with each potential course of action. Having a plan will help us prioritize and respond to business challenges appropriately.
3) Focus your energy and resources to solve one problem at a time. It is easy to be overwhelmed when we are faced with many pressing items at the same time. Most of the survivors were confronted with many urgent problems. However, their physical condition or limited resources could only allow them to attend to the most urgent and important issue. By prioritizing issues, they were able to focus their energy and allocate their resources effectively to solve the most urgent and important problem. This lesson calls our attention to the way we manage our time, energy and resources. Focusing on the most critical and vital problem may be more effective instead of trying to solve several trivial problems at the same time.
4) If one solution does not work, try a different solution. It was an eye-opener to see how simple tasks become complicated when you are in a survival situation. Conventional approaches were not possible and did not yield the expected results. Survivors began thinking of solutions to solve their problems. If a solution did not work, they thought of another solution and began trying it to check if it was effective. After numerous attempts, they eventually find a solution that solves their problem. This lesson invites us to unleash our creativity when finding business solutions. Trying new ideas and new ways of doing things can help us find solutions to help improve our situation.
5) Take action and keep moving. In a survival situation, things are likely to get worse before they get better. As soon as they assessed their situation and developed a plan, all of them decided to take action to achieve their survival objectives. Taking action in a survival situation is not always easy because of many factors like physical injuries, bad weather, fear and a lack of motivation. Survivors had to muster the courage and strength to make difficult decisions and take calculated risks. By taking action, survivors took control of their fate instead of letting circumstances dictate the outcome of their ordeal. This lesson encourages us to keep moving despite the challenging business situation. Progress may be slow but take consolation in the fact that you are taking a step towards the right direction. By taking action, you take control of your destiny instead of being a victim of circumstance.
6) Help and support each other. In some of the survival situations, survivors had to work together and support each other to survive. There were times during the ordeal when one person was physically injured and had to rely on his friend for support. There were times when one person would lose hope, but his friend would give him words of encouragement to help him persevere and survive. This lesson reminds us to find ways to help and support each other. It may be an excellent opportunity to explore ways to collaborate with others. When possible, consider supporting other stakeholders like customers, employees, and suppliers.
7) Never lose your will to fight and survive. Despite having physical injuries, limited resources, and harsh conditions, most survivors had with them a strong reason to survive during their ordeal. They thought about their family and the things they still wanted to accomplish in life. They also made a conscious effort to remain optimistic and maintain a positive attitude. This gave them a reason to live and strengthened their resolve to survive their ordeal. This lesson encourages us not to give up. Use this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of your business. Reflect on the purpose of our business and what your products and services mean to your customers and society.
I hope that the lessons I shared in this article give you a sense of hope by highlighting the fact that people have survived difficult situations and have overcome harrowing odds. There are no guarantees of success, but we can always give our best effort in taking control of our life, career and business to increase our chances of surviving during trying times.
Patrick David Cenon is an Assistant Professorial Lecturer at De La Salle University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate subjects in the Behavioral Sciences Department, College of Liberal Arts and the Marketing and Advertising Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business. Before joining DLSU, he worked for Toyota for over 13 years, supporting various projects in the Philippines, Asia-Pacific and Europe regions. He can be contacted at [email protected]