Recently, I found myself hooked on AMC’s hit show, The Walking Dead. I’m not sure whether it was the adrenaline of a good zombie-human throwdown or the perplexing amount of questions I had about the cans and cants of a Zombie Apocalypse, but either way I was hooked.
So as I anxiously await the midseason premier February 10th, I couldn’t help but consider the wide set of skills & dashes of luck you need to subsist on a zombie infested planet. Sure the average person can survive Season 1 without much dexterity, but you have to be a pretty resilient and crafty walking dead slayer to endure until Season 3.
- Now you may ask: Why is the intern rambling about Zombies on a Career Planning blog?
- The answer: I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the skill sets of survivors and people who have forged successful careers in the real world. According to a recent Forbes article, “Super Achievers” share 10 major characteristics, which also match those on the Walking Dead. Let’s explore…
1.) Dedicated to a Vision: For the leader of the pack, Rick, the survival and betterment of the group marks his top priorities and focused vision. Successful corporate figureheads also maintain a vision built on short and long terms goals.
2.) Intelligent Persistence: Forbes differentiates between dedication & blind
persistence, noting that success is bred by people who are determined, but can also think outside the box from unique angles. Considering that the onset of a Zombie apocalypse is not something most people anticipate, the leading survivors embody endurance and the ability to be shrewd in new situations. We’ve seen Rick & the gang do everything from donning zombie guts to blend in Season 1 to transforming almost any normal object into a weapon in order to maintain their goal of survival.
3.) Fostering a Community: On The Walking Dead, surrounding yourself with a trusting, varied community is essential. We tip ours hats to Rick for being a police man and somehow scooping up a doctor and a slew of other skilled peeps on his travels. Super Achievers also know how to surround themselves with talented people. The best actors boast top managers, publicists, assistants and connections to top tier directors and studios. Although only one name may see his/her name in shining lights, the best rise up by working with the other talented people.
4.) Listening & Remaining Open: Success does not solely hinge on delegating tasks and having your opinion heard, it also depends on listening. Thriving leaders share the ability to hear others’ opinions and remain open to changing their ideas. As the big cheese on The Walking Dead, Rick must account for new ideas from the group, especially when trying to escape dangerous situations. When Carl is injured early in Season 2, Rick remains open-minded to the medical options Doctor Hershel provides him. In a broader sense, if you aren’t willing to listen and try new things in a Zombie Apocalypse, you’re as good as gone. The same is true in business!
5.) Good Storytelling: During a Zombie Apocalypse, holding on to your sanity and positivity means having people around you who can remind you of the past and communicate positively about the future. And if nothing else, since there is no more television or internet (AHH!), compelling story tellers act as your saving grace from perpetual boredom. Take Zombies out the equation, the ability to entice and entertain people is crucial to building networks of people and making success seem easier than it looks.
6.) Testing Ideas in the Market: Super Achievers possess good instincts and the
fortitude to carry their instincts out. Forbes discusses Bill Gross, the founder of CarsDirect, who followed his gut and tested his online car site—before they even had inventory, four cars had been purchased! We will have to be a little looser with the concept of “market” in the world of Zombies, but Rick marks a prime example of someone who always throws new ideas on the table and tries things out in order to progress. For instance, pushing the group to find the CDC in Season 1 was something that had to be put to the test in order to learn more about the pandemic and better predict survival.
7.) Managing Emotions: Tom Hanks was pretty spot on as he spewed “There’s no crying in baseball” in the movie A League of Their Own. Although you definitely don’t want the water works streaming in most jobs (well, unless you’re a drama film actor), managing other negative emotions like anger or frustration is equally important, as it reflects the composure shared by most successful leaders. Warding off the walking dead also beckons a sense of calm intensity. Although it is totally understandable to scream when a flesh eating creature is storming your personal space, stay as level headed as possible and the Zombie will be as good as dead… umm again.
8.) Constantly Evolving: Adaptability is key wherever you are in life. You’re baking cupcakes for a bake sale and the store is out of eggs? Adapt. You’re about to land a multi-million dollar deal and the terms change? Adapt. You’re cornered in a high school gym filled with carnivorous walkers? Adapt… really fast. Thinking on your feet is part of continually yielding successful results.
9.) Practicing Patience: Although trusting your gut is crucial, Super Achievers also know when to wait for certain opportunities. True go-getters complement their short and long term goals, meaning inaction can signify strategy not unwillingness. Similarly, deciding when to travel and when to stay somewhere during a hurricane of Zombies reflects the virtue of patience as well.
10.) Pursuing Happiness: Empty success equates to nothing in the end. When Super Achievers find happiness in their success, that happiness can propel further success, creating a wonderful cycle. Although portending misery tends to consume most people entrenched in a Zombie Apocalypse, the small instances of optimism tend to be the fuel that keeps Rick and his group going. This may be a relative sense of happiness, but it works!
…So the take away message?
Develop or identify some of these 10 attributes in yourself and you just may flourish in the double benefit of finding success in the real world & surviving if the Zombie plague ever dominates our civilization. Until then… keep coming to Career Planning & keep watching The Walking Dead!
Happy Zombie hunting, Holy Cross!