The Tao of Bear Grylls

Confession: One of my guilty pleasures is watching the TV show Man vs. Wild. I am in awe of the show's star, Bear Grylls, and the insanity to which he subjects himself. And yes, while I realize he has an entire production team with him, he is still placing himself in harm's way and taking crazy risks for each show. Despite what some people say, he is the real deal. And this is why I recently purchased his new autobiography, Mud, Sweat, and Tears to read while on vacation. I wanted to know what makes someone like Bear tick. The 400-page book is an exceedingly quick and easy read. It's written in the same staccato style that Bear (we're on a first name basis now) delivers his voice-overs for the TV show. Simple language, lots of sound bites, quick scene changes, and many chapters. In fact, after reading the book, I have an even greater respect for the guy.

His gumption, his perseverance in the face of adversity, his general disposition, and his philosophies about living are all qualities that I respect a great deal. Therefore, I would encourage anyone and everyone to read his book, particularly those who think Bear to be anything less than inspirational. You may walk away learning a thing or two about living well. Following are three passages in the book that I earmarked:

  • Commenting on having finally found a company to give him £10,000 in support of his Mt. Everest expedition (before anyone knew him from Adam): "So I got lucky. But then again, it took me many hundreds of rejections to manage to find that luck. I am sure there is a lesson in that somewhere." Personally, I am a firm believer that LUCK lies at the intersection of opportunity and preparedness. If you're not prepared to take advantage of that once in a lifetime opportunity (or even to recognize it as such) when it comes your way, then you'll never be lucky.
  • Bear relates a story about meeting his future wife. The weekend he meets her, he takes her and several other women on a fairly adventurous and aggressive hike. He says: "But things didn't go quite as planned. The first panicked whimper seemed to set off a cacophony of cheeps, as, one by one, the girls began to voice their fears. It is funny how quickly everyone can go from being totally fine to totally not-fine, very fast, once one person starts to panic." I see this dynamic a lot in PR. Once one person goes on record as being either for or against a particular product or idea, others begin to follow more readily. The power of the group is not to be underestimated. It's why people spend so much time and energy trying to reach "influencers."
  • On public speaking (specifically his own experience): "Men tend to think that they have to be funny, witty, or incisive onstage. You don't. You just have to be honest. If you can be intimate and give the inside story -- emotions, doubts, struggles, fears, the lot -- then people will respond." As someone who continues to work at overcoming a fear of public speaking, I found this sentiment to be especially poignant and encouraging. And it's a philosophy that I encourage my clients to follow as well. Be true to yourself in your communications and PR efforts and the results will be so much stronger than if you're posturing.

Thanks for the great read Bear. You're no Jack London, but hey, that's not why I'm a fan anyway. Keep up the great work.