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Marc Wallert: Just don’t lose your head: Positive thinking can be deadly!

Yes, positive thinking can be deadly! And this is what Marc Wallert says as an avowed optimist. Why? Because he experienced it 20 years ago – and survived – after 140 days of being held hostage in the Philippine jungle.

And what was true back then in the jungle is also true of the current Corona pandemic. Today, we are all hostages: Corona restricts our freedom of movement, up to and including quarantine. We cannot escape the threat, we do not know how it will develop and when it will end – just like back then, in the jungle. In such unsafe situations, people threaten to lose their heads. First comes the shock. People get into fear and panic. Here optimism helps. In order to be optimistic, the hostages thanked every evening for what was positive that day – no matter how hard it was – the weather, a portion of rice, survival etc. After this evening ritual Marc Wallert was noticeably more confident, the spiral of fear in his head was stopped by positive thoughts. His optimism might even have saved his life in the jungle, because it has a positive effect on his health – demonstrably! Optimism is considered a source of strength in crises. But he also got to know it as a source of danger and found it: Positive thinking can be deadly!

Marc Wallert: Just don’t lose your head.

After weeks of captivity, a Spartan rice diet, life-threatening skirmishes and threats of decapitation, the situation of the hostages improved significantly: they were allowed to move around more freely than before, received food from local civilians and a guard even trimmed their beards once. International journalists were given access to the hostages. The hostage camp seemed to open. The kidnappers gave the hostages hope for a quick release: “Maybe tomorrow”. They thought “It’s over!” and were optimistic, almost euphoric.

Does that sound familiar these days? Yes, we are currently in the same phase, the most critical. Since the relaxation of the Corona rules, we are allowed to meet people again, go shopping and also go to the hairdresser again. Relief and optimism are spreading. For many people the crisis is already over. Marc Wallert has learned in the jungle: “You can’t be careless and let hygiene slide. Otherwise we risk further corona deaths. Moreover, a second lockdown would destroy many professional livelihoods. Such a setback is psychologically difficult to cope with. In the jungle, he was life-threatening.

The hoped-for “quick” release was not granted. The hostages were shocked. Some hostages clung to rumors again. “You’ll be released next week”, they said, but this date also passed – with almost fatal consequences. Again and again disappointed hope plunged some of the hostages into a depressive state and suicide attempts. Others remained optimistic even now, still believing in a quick release. This was equally dangerous as they became careless. One hostage carelessly strolled to the jungle toilet, stumbled, pulled a bloody wound on her hand. Disciplined hand washing? Too tedious, no need, we’ll be out soon anyway. Result: An inflammation and 40 degrees fever – without medical care in the jungle life-threatening.

It’s like a jungle – the corona virus.

As in the jungle, so in Corona: The crisis is not over yet. The imprisonment as hostages of the virus only ends with a vaccine. Until then, patience and discipline are required. So keep your distance and wash your hands, rather than shake them, so that it actually ends well. We need it now more than ever: the art of not losing your head. Let’s stay positive without becoming frivolous. That’s how we will regain our freedom.

Learn from Marc Wallert which jungle strategies you, your team and your company use to get through crises and emerge from them stronger. Book Marc Wallert for a lecture, live or virtual, at the Speaker Agency MyKeynoteSpeaker. Phone: +41 (0)43 55 66 440.

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