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Learning Trust Through Nature: Meerkats

Credit: San Diego Zoo Credit: San Diego Zoo

Think of Timon from Disney’s The Lion King. He was a meerkat. Meerkats live in the harsh and dangerous conditions of Africa. And live in large underground networks with multiple entrances and as many of forty meerkats living in the colony. They have adopted a very smart survival strategy, which is based on mutual trust. One or more members stand as sentry or lookout for the group, while the rest are foraging or playing. As soon as they spot any danger, they alert the whole colony, which then has enough time to run for safety using the many bolt holes spread across their terrority. That same sentry meerkat will be the first to reappear from the burrow and search for predators, and constantly barking to keep the others underground. Once the danger has past, they stop barking to single to everyone else to emerge. The amount of trust the mob places on each other is massive; one slip of alerting the mob can be the difference between life and death, but they still do it with a high rate of success.

Meerkats put the colony as a whole over their own well being. From protecting the young from any threat and endangering their own lives to do so. And said by ready to defend them with their lives. Or lying on top of them if underground retreat is not possible.

So how can we apply this to our lives?

Similarly, we must trust in each other. This is the most basic requirement in a team. You cannot grow or achieve much individually until you trust your team and work together. From going out of your way to help the others in order to reach your goal, to making sure everyone’s needs are being met. If a client is making life difficult for one of your team members, helping them deal with the situation can go a long way to building trust.

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