7 things I learned from Bear Grylls

I recently read Bear Gryll’s book “A survival guide for life — how to achieve your goals, thrive in adversity, and grow in character”. Bear Grylls has caught my attention ever since my brother introduced me to his show ‘Man vs. Wild’. I wasn’t sure what it was about the show, but it brought back a lot of memories about some of the most interesting books that I read in Elementary School — The Hatchet, The River, Island of the Blue Dolphins — books about surviving in the wild. The running joke with Bear is that he drinks his piss but that’s not why I read the book; I sure as hell would not drink my piss but I wanted to see what Bear has learned from his extensive survival experience.

“When you truly commit yourself to your dream, when you ooze enthusiasm and let your talents shine (however small or fledgling they might be at the start), you will often find that the money comes to you by default.

Back in university, I thought of what was practical for me after university and ended up choosing Computer Science and Mathematics to balance my passion (math) with something practical (computer science). It’s not that I ended up doing something I didn’t like but I think about what would have happened if I only pursued math. It’s also a nice reminder that there are more important things in life than money — family, health, friends.

The key skill for team members that you work with: enthusiasm

I know that we all like to work with smart, funny and hard working people but I think it’s interesting that the key skill that Bear mentions here that he’d like to have is enthusiasm. I believe that he’s worked with many people in life and it makes a lot of sense. We try to hire for aptitude when we should be looking more at attitude. If the person is smart, hard working, a team player, good communicator, etc., all of that is great but it multiplies with a great attitude.

Advice for when you’re starting out and trying to make a difference — say yes

At the very beginning of your career, you will want to say yes to a lot of things. It’s about trying a lot of things and seeing what you like and what you dislike. When do you start to say no? When you’re getting so many opportunities that you get to be choosy.

The difference between a $1 million racehorse and a $100 million racehorse — a little bit extra

There isn’t a huge difference between these two racehorses and the same analogy can be applied to life. The difference between first place and second place is not big — it’s that little bit extra that champions do to dig deep and get that extra bit of energy. At some point, while everyone can train or have the right skills, it comes down to who wants it more and who has trained their mind to push their body further.

It is when we test ourselves that we begin to know ourselves

Sometimes when I train, I try to push myself a little bit harder than I feel comfortable with. I do it because I know without pushing and testing yourself, you don’t really know what you can accomplish and what your limits are. Bear’s been through some unbelievable trials — climbing Mount Everest, surviving in the wild with only limited gear and he certainly has learned a lot about himself, as I’m sure that all of us would. We don’t have to climb Mount Everest — sometimes its about pushing ourselves at the gym, or trying something new like improv class. When you push yourselves outside of your comfort zone, that’s when you really learn your limitations.

Success requires sacrifice

I know a lot of people, including myself, want to achieve success without giving anything up. We want to work a good well-paying job, have a healthy balance in life, have a great family but there’s something we have to give up to get there — whether its long hours trying to get promoted or bad jobs at the start or awful first dates. Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich” expounds this — figure out what you want to get in life and then identify what you are willing to give up to get it. You can’t get anything in life without giving up something else.

“When I hear an expedition member say it can’t be done, I can never resist amending it to ‘we haven’t yet found a way to do it’”

What a great way of reframing a problem or obstacle in life! Rather than letting yourself wallow in defeat over a problem, set your mind on trying to find solutions or ways around the obstacle. If you focus on the opportunities in life then you’re going to have a positive attitude as well.

We’re not all going to climb mountains or survive in the wild with only a knife but there’s all things we can learn from pushing and learning about ourselves, saying yes to a variety of things, and digging deep.



Author of Essential Habits. I write about personal development, work and managing your career. Connect with me at www.wangyip.ca

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