Saturday, 26 February 2011

Why we can learn a lot from the Masaai

I’m just going to say it. As far as I’m concerned, if you haven’t been watching ‘Human Planet’ you might as well be a little bit dead. This programme is stunning, and for anyone that cares at all about what happens in the world beyond our sight, unmissable. From the tribe of people that spend their lives on boats, with no nationality, whose children’s eye’s have already evolved to focus better underwater, to the birds eye film of as-yet undiscovered Amazonian tribes, it never fails to amaze.

One of the most surprising stories was that of the Masaai warriors, who faced with hungry bellies, and opposed to spending days hunting, regularly steal their dinner from ravenous lions. Forget brave, this was a display of balls unequalled by anything I have ever seen in my life. Three skinny men hide behind a bush and watch as upwards of fifteen lions fight and snarl over the corpse of a zebra, and when these men feel the moment is just right, they stand up. They look at the lions, and when they’re sure all the lions are looking back at them, the men start to walk, slowly, towards the zebra. Ridiculous. This is unreasonable to the extreme. And yet, astonishingly, one of the lions runs, and seeing this, the others peel away, one by one, to hide, and watch from the bushes. Fifteen kings of the animal kingdom watch as three skinny men steal their meat and walk away.

Clearly, swagger can do a lot. I’ve taken this as a valuable lesson. My boss is an intimidating man, but since watching this episode I’ve started to tell him when there are problems, rather than nod and shuffle away when he has a little outburst, I’ve started to talk back. And sure enough, having done so, I’m reaping the benefits. Monday morning I’m asking for a pay rise.

Now I appreciate that a little blonde waitress showing a little more bluster to her boss hardly replicates the animal kingdom, I’m just saying that there is a lesson to be learnt here. If we ever want to eat dinner, we have to stand up to our lions. And if possible, steal theirs.

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