Unique Leadership Axiom: know the subtle details of the environment in which you operate; they will give you warning of unwanted change.
This blog is about winning. Winning started as survival in the world that first supported life. Survival characterizations range from fantastic myths and religion to the origin of the universe and modern micro-biology.
The TV series “Monk” makes light of the perception of risks in life with its theme song telling us that it’s a jungle out there! Yes it is a jungle out there. Winning is about surviving in that jungle, our local environment. If we don’t “listen to that jungle” we may fail to win and ultimately fail to survive.
The tropical jungle of military experience is characterized in The US Army Field Manual FM 90-5 this way:
Field Marshal Slim’s words reflect the image of the jungle most armies carry into jungle warfare. At first, the jungle seems to be very hostile, but the hostility wanes as troops learn more about the jungle environment.
“To our men. . . the jungle was a strange, fearsome place; moving and fighting in it were a nightmare. We were too ready to classify jungle as ‘impenetrable’ . . . To us it appeared only as an obstacle to movement; to the Japanese it was a welcome means of concealed maneuver and surprise . . . The Japanese reaped the deserved reward . . . we paid the penalty.”
–Field Marshall Slim, Victor in Burma, World War II (Concerning the dark, early days of the Burma Campaign)
That is only part of the story. Field Marshal Slim did not discuss the denizens of the Jungle that the soldiers “listen to”. Everything that lives in the jungle is in a desperate struggle for survival. In that struggle there is a fantastically heightened level of awareness for potential threats. Anything that is unknown automatically generates a mass flight to safety. When a flock of birds suddenly takes flight or monkeys sound the alarm that a threat may be at hand, every creature in the jungle prepares to defend itself. On the other hand, predators like insects may swarm to the intruder, telling you exactly where the threat is.
In the war in Southeast Asia those who listened to the jungle were far less likely to be caught by surprise when the enemy launched an attack. It is important to observe that people who are longtime residents of the jungle don’t know what you are talking about if you ask them do they listen to the jungle. For them listening to the jungle is an autonomic function, an action or response that occurs without conscious control.
In the last four years there have been plenty of opportunities to watch how both predators and other denizens of our jungle responded to risk and zeroed in on victims. Some predators noticed that the government was making it almost mandatory to allow people to buy houses they couldn’t afford. Other denizens noted that the practice of quantitative easing (printing more money) was depleting the real value of the dollar relative to hard resources like gold. Those of us who paid attention to the sound of the jungle prospered. Those who were not aware didn’t do so well. They were the ones who didn’t listen to the jungle.
Leadership Focus: Situation Awareness is one of the keys to winning and surviving. Unfortunately many people fake situation awareness. The real answer is to know your environment, your jungle, so that you can tell instantly when its sounds change!
My Take: Technology is wonderful. It’s where I was trained and where I contributed through most of my career. But it is the engine which has handed control of information to the entertainment community, the media which lives by the motto “If it bleeds, it leads!” This deliberate distortion of reality creates a level of noise that deprives us all of a clear understanding of our society, our jungle. For those Americans who were born in the technology era, believing the “If it bleeds, it leads” hoopla is an autonomic function, turning them into gullible consumers of a distorted view of reality.
The obliteration of our situation awareness for the sole benefit of a predatory media is a cancer in our society, a parasite threatening our society and our freedom!
We have become a country of citizens who can no longer listen to our jungle.