The tracking success pathway: Find the track

*This content is brought to you by Tracking Success

By Alex van den Heever & Grant Ashfield*

Using an ancient African practice as a modern-day guide to life and business.

Animal tracking is an ancient practice. 

It comes to us from our human ancestors. It may in fact be the original science. Humanities first attempt at solving a complex problem through the process of analysis and deduction.  

In modern times animal tracking is used in the conservation and eco-tourism industries. We are blessed in Southern Africa to still have individuals and communities who possess and practice this  ancient skill. 

Tracking a wild animal in a vast and wordless environment is like a giant puzzle that must be solved. To the outsider it appears magical and mysterious. 

But it’s not. 

From spending thousands of hours in the field with tracking masters we have distilled the animal tracking process into 5 interrelated activities. We call this the Tracking Success Pathway

Five steps that work together to find, follow and ultimately encounter the animal.

Along the way we also discovered that tracking is not just an ancient African practice. 

In fact, the process of tracking a wild lion is in essence no different to tracking a customer, meaning or a new strategy. Tracking, it turns out, is also an essential and relevant guide to modern-day living. 

In this series we describe each of the five activities and the mindsets that lie behind them. 

Activity one – Find the Track

The first activity in the process is to find the right track to follow.  

The key mindset here is discernment

Discernment is defined as the ability to grasp and comprehend what is unclear. To be observant, detailed, and to evaluate each footprint and sign on its merits.

Trackers set off at dawn when the air is cool, the ground is impressionable, and the light is soft. 

These are the conditions best suited to tracking wild animals.

The tracker targets areas where animals move, and where the soil holds the track nicely. 

This is calculated carefully. From the outset they are energy conscious. They focus their efforts on areas of greatest opportunity.

Trackers actively search for the freshest track of the animal they intend to pursue. 

There’s enthusiasm and energy in this phase of the tracking process. You cannot find the right track from the comfort of your sofa. It requires actual work.

Track awareness in this phase is vital. 

The tracker must be highly competent – able to correctly identify and interpret the tiniest details on the ground. They must zoom into the detail to find a fresh track worth following. 

They’re also patient. 

An experienced tracker will turn down many opportunities before they settle on the correct trail. They know that a mistake at this stage – can have far reaching consequences. 

Energy is their currency. 

If they put effort into the wrong track, energy will be misspent and wasted. 

The common trap at this early stage is deciding too quickly. Inexperienced trackers tend to show a bias for action, usually driven by social pressure. This causes them to waste energy and to embark on activity for “activity’s sake.”

Whether you’re tracking a new strategy, a customer, or getting a project off the ground – one needs to invest in meticulous groundwork with high levels of detail. 

The mindset of discernment must be activated. It’s necessary to ensure the highest return on energy expended. Deciding too early without the right information can have negative consequences. 

This phase concludes when the tracker finds what he is looking for and makes the decision to follow.

See to learn how you and your team can adopt the mindset of a tracker.