Aurora Magazine

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Is It Time to Think about The Bare Necessities?

What can the song The Bare Necessities teach us about our professional lives?
Updated 11 Apr, 2023 04:09pm

The corporate world is often referred to as a jungle (although at times a jungle appears to be less vicious and difficult to navigate than the corporate world). This analogy is built on the belief that professional life is about the survival of the fittest and professionals need to be savage, look out for themselves, and compete in order to be the best – in other words, ‘number one’.

I remember being introduced to another kind of jungle when I was a child in The Jungle Book – the Disney movie based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling the famous British author. The characters were a lot more nuanced and developed, be it Bhalu, Bagheera and the monkeys, the villain the tiger Sher Khan and other animals. Along with being a great watch, the animated movie had two songs that have stuck with me all my life, and I have no shame in admitting that I sing along to them – Bare Necessities and I Just Want to Be Like You. Both of them have contrasting themes, one about being carefree and the latter about being worried about what is next.

I Just Want to Be Like You has a deep message for those of us in the corporate world. It is sung by King Louie, who is tired of being the leader of monkeys, and longs and craves for something more. He wants to become a man. Bare Necessities has always been a personal favourite because of the great singing and funny antics of Mowgli, Bhalu and Bagheera .

It’s amazing how much eclectic wisdom you can glean from animated cartoons like The Jungle Book or Kung Fu Panda. These are not just movies for children, they hold deep lessons and roadmaps to live your life. The advice and path are there if you are ready to see them. In our corporate and the modern world, we seem to be striving and striving and spending a lot of energy on reaching the top, being the best, and being number one. As many people have discovered, reaching the top and staying there after a while does not fulfil you or bring you more happiness. It can bring you sorrow and pain and grief.

I remember when I was a media planner at Lowe and Rauf and we were associated with Initiative, one of the CEOs of the company heading a country or region, had decided to quit his job at the age of 41. What was his next move? To go home and garden. To our ambition-driven and ‘success at the highest level’ obsessed Pakistani professionals, this might seem a really foolish thing to do. Give up your position and power and become ordinary and almost invisible? In actuality, it is a smart and wise move, as he decided to focus on the bare necessities.

"Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature's recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life"

If working and being a cog in the corporate machine brings us excess stress and disease, communing with nature and taking the time to relax and rejuvenate does the exact opposite. We need to realign our lives to focus on the important things, things that matter like relationships.

King Louie could well be any CEO or manager who has reached the top and is now uneasy because there is nowhere to go. The orangutan King Louie, who is not in the book but was invented for the movie, wants to become like a human. In our corporate world, how many of us forget how to be human and become, if not animals, like robots? A large percentage I would believe.

Studies have shown that people driven for success in education or work are actually the 'golden children'. Or they are people who have deep insecurities, lack self-love, and are trying to compensate for this internal void. What’s the solution to improve our lives and reduce the amount of stress and anxiety and other unhealthy side effects?

The answer to what King Louie and millions of working professionals are searching for can be found in the last verse of Bare Necessities:

“And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you
They'll come to you!”

It’s time for working people in the corporate world, especially in Pakistan, to strip down their lives and realise that what they need are the simple bare necessities of life.