It is the darkest of night, no moon, but fortunately there are a lot of stars. The Northern hemisphere night sky is familiar, but here in South-Africa, I primarily try to recognise the Ursa Major, but I cannot find it. Searching for myself, with a torch in my hand, during the night watch, a deep growling startles me. It is a male lion, announcing the hunt. During day time it is almost safe to walk around, accompanied by an armed guide, at night though it is essential to stay close to the fire in a location that is difficult to access. Fortunately, the growling is far away and it is starting to get light again. It is a magical feeling to guard over the others, see the sun come up on my own and to hear the birds being happy that a new day has started.
SILENCE IS REWARDING
It is my second journey through South-Africa with a group of Dutchmen and we are in the Umfolozi wild reserve near Durban. After a few days in the park I am fully at ease, walking among rhinos and elephants. The peace and silence feel good and three balanced meals per day plus some water keep me fit. What I feel mostly is that the silence and remoteness are very rewarding. To be able to stop the fast train of thoughts is a great gift.
Isn’t it strange that in The Netherlands I hardly ever choose to sit still on a tree trunk for a few hours, my mobile turned off and wait for animals and thoughts to come to me. I am frequently in the Zeister woods, but only to run or hike through them as fast as I can. In Umfolozi it is different. The ingredients that make me feel good are the many walks, sitting still on rocks and view the animals and especially the night watch over my fellow travellers.
Just as the animals, we have a fixed pattern. We start by getting up, having breakfast, leaving the sleeping place just as we found it, pack everything and go to the next breath taking spot to make camp. There is not much more about it though then making a camp fire and laying down a mat and a sleeping bag.
The first day, after a few hours of walking we saw a rhino and its calf. Although from the picture it appears as if she is asleep, the mother rhino is always alert and as we have our eyes in the front of our heads, we are considered to be predators. That is not so bad, because for instance a lion, that has recently eaten will just be ignored by a tasty bite such as a zebra. The zebra instinctively feels that there will be no hunting this time. But distressed people fiddling with their backpack and, although they should keep quiet, make noises as if they are walking on a gravel path, yes, that is what the rhino considers threatening for its young.
The attack comes swiftly and the rhino can easily run 30 km/h. Our guide waits until the mother and calf are really close and then creates a wall of sound (shouting loudly, which startles the both of them) and then the mother, only 2 metres away from the group, disappears with her young. It’s odd that I don’t feel any excitement or fear, but mostly understanding for the attack and the fact that we caused it. This makes me realise that animals completely trust their feelings and live in a constant balance of fear and trust.
ELIMINATING FEAR IS A FALSE SECURITY
It is striking to what extent we have eliminated fear from our system or at last how hard we try. That is probably the reason that when someone uses fear (such as the threat of terrorism or viruses), we can so easily be influenced.
Acknowledging my own fears is confronting for me. There is however no escape here in the wilderness. What I mainly learn from it is that this fear belongs with me and is a normal part of my being. As soon as I dare to face it and acknowledge it, nothing much seems to be happening. Denying it though, leads to sleepless nights and an uneasy feeling. Eliminating fear is therefore a false security. I now learn particularly to look at myself better and to listen to my internal voices and to see and acknowledge where my fear and trust are.
DANGER IS REAL, FEAR IS MY OWN CHOICE
The reward comes after a couple of days when the animals are suddenly much closer and don’t run away when they smell or see me. Apparently I radiate much less distress, which is correct, as there is a lot more room for energy in my body. I feel like I am on top of the world and want to keep on running. It’s amazing how easy it really is to feel good and be close to myself. Rest and space and acknowledgement and embracing of my own fears, and turning off my mobile: that’s all. Why don’t I do this much more often?
AFRICA AND PIETERPAD: WALKING TEAM BUILDING
Of course Africa is very beautiful and I would prefer to go back there as soon as possible with a group of Dutch people of my own choice. But there is also a more approachable possibility; the Pieterpad that runs from Limburg to Groningen is also very suitable for a journey which leads to peace and insights.
Walking together in silence and sharing personal experiences and feelings over a camp fire ensures that team members get more closely related to each other and understand and recognise each other’s drives and fears. Guidance by someone who understands this process and can facilitate it is therefore highly recommendable.
Within HillFive we are convinced that such an investment leads to better results at work. It ensures that I have a better understanding of interactions with the clients and keep developing myself. In addition, I am more capable of helping clients. In many cases teaching skills to a client, such as Lean tools, is enough to achieve performance enhancement. Learning new skills also often means letting the old ones go and in many cases this goes hand in hand with fear. My Africa experiences now support me to help the client and to find a way out. To settle the client within his own power is very satisfying for me. It is rewarding to assist the client with lasting personal growth.
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Have a great time today!