August 2, 2019

When “Hakuna Mutata” Hypnotises Our Business

it seemed that most people felt like we did.

None of us were in the least embarrassed to laugh at the jokes…
… apparently designed for our children.
But, of course, were aimed at us.

it was classic Disney/Pixar.
And I thought it was stunning.
Wendy involuntarily clapped as the last scene closed.

The Lion King.
Disney’s latest epic effort.

Another of the joyous legends that our younger children have digested, mesmerised, since they were toddlers.

Even now; now that they are accomplished adults…
If we sat them in front of the screen…
They could mimic every line, every word, every song of The Lion King.
And they would do it, annoyingly, irritatingly, word-perfect, voice-perfect.

Such is the captivating power of the beautiful, well-crafted myths and legends that weave themselves into our collective consciousness.

And we can evolve through years – decades – with our impressionable hearts and minds accepting some things as Truths – obviously.
When those ‘truths’ started as little more than myths… or half-truths at best.
Or simply a musing, spoken out loud.

Take the ‘accepted wisdom’ about our ability to form new habits.

In my early years in business, I learned that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit.
21 days.
It made a lot of sense to those of us who worked with that Accepted Wisdom.

Decades later, I learned that careful research shows that particular Truth to be a heap of bunkum.
Complete hogwash.
Utter twaddle.

But attractive, believable twaddle.

A simple change of behaviour, like drinking sufficient water each day?
Well, that can take many months to become an ingrained habit.
Months. Not days.

Nobody knows who first voiced the ‘21 Days’ myth.
Nobody seems to care.
But the mantra spread like wildfire throughout our society.
Probably because it was so attractive.

Then, I’ve sat entranced as conference speakers have strutted the stage.
Teaching us – for example – about ‘The Best Way To Win Referrals for Our Business’.

Teaching what to say, to ask existing clients for referrals.
”Because,” as they remind us, “49% of clients say that would give us referrals…
… if only we would ask!”

And so we go home, excited about the possibilities arising from that 49%.
We spend hours, days, weeks, trying out our newfound Killer App.


The recent research amongst the clients of thousands of professional firms tells a different story.
Only 2% of those clients report that “being asked for referrals” was the reason that they provided them.
Two percent!

Which meant that 98% of the good things that happen (in this business case) are for a completely different reason!

I wonder.
What’s happening here?

Am I saying that we should live life cynically?
Forever rejecting what others teach us?

Oh, my word, no!
What a horrendous, miserable thought!

No. It’s this.

I believe that one of the insights that emerges from our too-easy acceptance of information is this…

We find it easier to accept the ‘packaged answers’ proliferating in the noise of our media today.
The mantras and messages taught by our organisation. Our community.
The handed-down wisdom.
The Easy-To-Remember.
The soundbites.
The platitudes.

We have so much data thrown at us.
There’s such an engulfing sea of information today.
We are drowning in wave after wave of Essential Knowledge…
that seems to be demanded, for our very survival in business.

And we simply don’t have the time to check it all out.

In such a breathless environment…
Our minds scream at us… that we don’t need more information.
Or even more knowledge.

What we desperately need is (that rare commodity of) Insight.
What we need is greater individual Wisdom.

What we need are ways to quieten the noise of other’s voices.
What we need is time and space to quieten the chatter in our heads.

What our soul yearns for is to Be Still.
To be given time to think. Time to see clearly.

What our mind yearns for is the quiet space to see into the future.
To ask questions about “Where will this eventually lead to?”
the answers to which our heart already knows.

The challenge is, sometimes those answers don’t provide such immediate gratification.
Sometimes, the road to The Truth looks long.

Yes, Simba found temporary healing in “Hakuna Mutata”.
The swahili for “Life With No Worries, Mate”

Or, in our case “This is the most obvious – the quickest – way to do my job and make the most money”.

But his greatness came, not by swallowing that myth.

His greatness came when he faced the daunting truth that he had a mighty destiny to fulfil.
It might challenge his courage, require more grit; be more demanding.
Others might point to quicker ways.

But the possibility spoke of a life that would be selfless, enriching, far-reaching.
And glorious for those whose lives he would bless.
A truly royal life, in the most noble, beautiful sense of that word.

And so – in business – it is for us.