Starting my ZooFit for kids program called Wildlife Wednesdays has opened my eyes to many possibilities. A possible book, classes on Outschool and Teachers of Nature, and a new weekly workout on YouTube. But it also has opened my eyes to the wonderful lessons the animal kingdom has to offer. The lessons from a tiger or a sea squirt can honestly change our lives if we are willing to listen and learn.
I know a lot about animals. Not more than some zookeepers, but I’d dare to say it’s above average compared with “normal” humans (we don’t care for the term “normal” with ZooFit– we aim for above average, excellent, or downright weird is perfectly fine, too). However, while designing a tiger workout, I wanted to look up fun kid-friendly facts about the large feline.
I know tigers are the largest cat species in the world. The tiger is one of the few species of cats that actually loves to swim. And their stripes are individually unique, like fingerprints. I also know tigers are incredibly endangered. There are more tigers privately owned (yes, as in pets) than there are in the wild.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down that rabbit hole as my first class with children. Sure, I love to raise awareness of conservation issues, but the private ownership of tigers gets into the tricky, politically murky water. For the record, I recognize that many many private tiger owners take absolutely amazing care of their animals. They could probably teach my tiger class better than I. But that was a rabbit hole I didn’t want to venture down, so I wanted to see what other lessons from a tiger I could teach kids for a fitness class. (I may have wanted to fact check what I “knew” about tigers, too)
Lessons From a Tiger Hunting
I typed “fun facts about tigers” and sure enough received some validation on some of my stored facts. Stripes- check. Swimmers- check (they aren’t the only cat that likes the water, though– jaguars, fisher cats, and a few others are notoriously good swimmers). Amur tiger is the largest cat in the world– check.
But then I read a fact that made me consider how amazing tigers really are. Tigers are only successful 1 out of 15-20 attempts at hunting. I stared at that statistic for a moment. One out of 15-20 attempts. That’s only a 5-7% success rate.
And that’s not like, oh, on their 16th or 18th attempt, they’re pretty much guaranteed to catch something. No, that means every single time a tiger goes hunting, they have only a 5-7% chance of catching something to eat.
Symbol of Power and Perseverance
If humans had only a 5% chance of success, I doubt we would ever accomplish as much in our lives. I get that tigers don’t have much of a choice in the matter. They need to eat, or they’ll die. But I still stand by my sentiment. Even if our lives depended upon it, in today’s world, I feel we would give up (and die) much quicker with those kinds of odds.
When people think of a tiger, they probably think of words like success, power, and strength. But we can’t have those concepts unless we take the real lessons from a tiger. We must have perseverance. Never ever give up on your dream. Take on your goals as if your life depends on them. The tiger doesn’t wallow in a corner when her prey gets away. She finds another opportunity and tries again.
We often talk about the “choice” of successful athletes, leaders, and business people. In his book, It Takes What It Takes, Trevor Maowad talks about how choice is an illusion. If you really want something, there isn’t a choice. You know what you have to do to get it. If it means the world to you, you go do it. Do whatever it takes to achieve your dreams. I relate that to the lesson from the tiger. The tiger doesn’t have a choice in the matter. To them, success equals survival. They either keep trying or they die.
Sure, we aren’t going to necessarily die if we give up on our dreams. But a piece of our soul dies. And we miss out on the opportunity to learn who we could have become if we had kept trying. I promise you, your chance of success is certainly higher than a tiger’s.
Life Lessons From a Tiger
When someone is super successful, most of us do not consider all the hurdles they had to jump over, or the struggles they faced on their journey. We don’t know if it took them 10, 15, or 20 times trying different options, channels, or venues to get where they are now. We see them as we see the tiger. Super powerful, strong, and successful.
But our tenacity and perseverance is the only thing that truly brings upon success. I don’t know who said it, but there is truth to the saying “it takes about 10 years to become an overnight success.”
When things are hard, as they often will be, remember the lessons from a tiger. Don’t give up. Even with the odds stacked against you, so long as you persevere, you will succeed. (And learn from your mistakes, like training animals and collecting data from setbacks)
Life Lessons From the Animal Kingdom
The tiger is only one animal of many that has inspired incredible life lessons. The hummingbird, the oyster, and many of the animals I worked with over the fifteen years as a zookeeper and animal care specialist have all left their mark in my heart and helped shape ZooFit.
What great lessons have animals in your life taught you? How can we incorporate those lessons by eating clean, living green, and training a little more positive? Let’s honor these amazing teachers by being the best versions of ourselves and shining brightly for the world to see. Today. Tomorrow. And forever.