Flexible thinking to survive your jungle

I always thought the world was like a jungle – more so after reading the account  of Ingrid Betancourt, who spent six years in captivity, held in the jungle by revolutionary guerrillas in Columbia.

Reflecting on how she survived she recalled two pieces of advice:

The first was one of her guard’s response when asked if the jungle frightened him. He replied: “We are all going to die. We don’t know when. For me, it could be a tree that falls on my head, an anaconda, or it could be a bullet from the enemy. I don’t care. I’m not going to live my life frightened because of all the dangers around me.”

The second was a case of psychologically reframing her reality.

Ingrid recalled: “You don’t master your fear. You’re not able to say, ‘I’m not going to be scared.’ But what you can do is say, ‘OK, I’m very, very scared, but I have to do this and this and this’. By focussing on the actions, the movements, and going down into little things – moving my hands to grab this branch – I could go beyond the fear. Put the fear aside and do the basics.”

All of us face the equivalent of a jungle: we face uncertainty, potential predators in different guises, and our ability to cope and be resourceful to face any situation.

In the same way as Ingrid coped with her age of disruption, if your facing tougher markets, budget cuts, moving goalposts the key – as it seemed to be with Ingrid is flexible and creative  thinking.

By thinking flexibly you are better able to respond to any challenges, difficulties – and new positive opportunities.

In our flexible thinking teaching we promote the cause of pessimism – or ‘pit stop pessimism’ – thinking of all the negatives, the problems and difficulties, in the same way that Ingrid had a real fear of overcoming her situation, then quickly move on.

We also espouse ‘thinking bigger’ in much the same way as the camp guard put specific problems into a wider context.

So, whether you are in a real jungle like Ingrid, or the jungle of modern-day urban life, flexible thinking is the route to unlocking your resourcefulness to make the best and most of situations you face.

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