Getting Back To Basics – Naked and Afraid?

In recent weeks, I have been captivated by a US television show called Naked and Afraid. The show is about two strangers, a man and a woman, who get dropped off in wild locations around the world, and have to survive for 21 days without any provisions and even their clothes are removed at the beginning of the show. Each week features a different couple. I have to say that there is nothing titillating about the show, as the private parts are always hidden behind an editor’s scrubber, which makes the private parts invisible. Also, the participants are usually too exhausted, too cold and too dehydrated to consider procreation activities. But this is not the point.

The fun part about the show for me is the fact that the participants have to survive without not only the creature comforts we all take for granted, but also basics like shelter, clothing, fire, water and food. Although undoubtedly the participants are selected due to their high level of outdoor skills, the show really puts them to the test. Building a shelter in the woods back home is very different from having to do it in the Amazon jungle. Trying to light a fire using a bow drill in the Louisiana swamps is very different from doing the same thing in your own back yard. Catching fish without a net or a line and hook is not as easy as you might think.

The reason for raising the show in my blog this week is to highlight the fact that many of us more than survive but still manage to whine about our situation. If you take things back to the basics, we can all make do with less and it can be an interesting experiment to reflect on our personal situations and to consider just how lucky we are. The logical extension of this is express gratitude for what we have on a regular basis and to truly enjoy the status quo, instead of constantly reaching out for the next toy, trinket or bauble that captures our attention.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a religious freak and would describe myself to be more a humanist than a servant of any particular faith. However, I have faced ill health in the past and I am truly grateful to be alive and to have had the privilege of watching my kids grow up and find their place in the world. Not everyone gets to do this. I was reminded of this rather starkly at a recent high school reunion where the names of former school friends, that are no longer alive, were called out and their lives celebrated. 7 guys out of my graduation year class have passed away as well as 16 from both the year before and the year after us.

I have come to appreciate that learning is a life long bonus for those of us that enjoy long lives. I learn something new with each consulting or coaching assignment; something new with each human interaction; something new each day from reading and surfing the web; something new from every course I attend; and something new from every networking event I go to. Yes, it is nice to get paid for my expertise and advice but the real reward comes from contributing and making a difference.

Like the participants in Naked and Afraid, we start off as strangers and exhibit caution in our interactions with clients we are meeting for the first time. As we work together, we build up trust and friendship as we share our skills and our knowledge. We help our clients to light the fire under their business. We deliver sustenance where it may not have existed before. We commit ourselves to the tasks at hand and we contribute generously to help meet our clients’ needs. Periodically, we express gratitude for the opportunity to help and for the privilege of working with our clients. And, sometimes our clients will reciprocate by expressing their gratitude to us as well.

For me, Naked and Afraid is like a metaphor for real life:

  • Don’t take anything for granted
  • Life is for living, don’t waste a second of it
  • Life can be tough at times but the more you put into it the more you get out
  • It’s not just about you, it’s about those around you as well
  • The job becomes easier if you have someone else around to help you
  • Be grateful for the privileges you enjoy.
  • Contribute something of value without always expecting something in return
  • Don’t take anything for granted and don’t have a sense of entitlement
  • Being critical of those around you can hurt you more than them
  • A positive attitude will serve you and deliver the things you need most
  • You can always quit if things get tough but you will probably live to regret it


Niall Strickland