Project Practitioners > Jungle vs. Farm: What's Your Environment?

Jungle vs. Farm: What's Your Environment?

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


Amal Easton, a Renzo Gracie black belt and owner of Easton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, recently appeared on a podcast to discuss his martial arts journey. While talking about the differences in training in Brazil versus the United States, he made a distinction between farm and jungle environments.

Easton labeled the Brazilian training facilities as jungles. Each person is training for themselves trying to become the best. There could only be one king, one alpha. You were trying to compete with everyone you rolled with and winning was the goal. Only the strongest survived in this environment.

You may be friends off of the mats, but once both of you slapped hands and bumped knuckles, those connections went out the window. The effort was 100% at all times. Weakness was not an option. If you showed signs of fatigue, attack mode engaged. Relentless pressure and activity were staples of the jungle.

As Brazilian Jiu Jitsu became more popular in the United States, he started to see a trend of gyms with a farm environment. Teammates are helping each other out. Rolls remained competitive but winning was not the goal. Learning from one another was emphasized. Getting better as a team took the forefront. Sure, some people were better than others and separated themselves, but that happened organically.

Preparation for tournaments occurs as a team. You are trying to make your teammate better while improving yourself. No one is trying to hurt you in hopes you do not compete so their chances of winning improve. If everyone wins, you have accomplished the ultimate goal. Losing impacts everyone because you prepared as a team, not an individual. You learn from the losses, get back in the gym, and start working with each other to get better.

Let’s break down each environment and see what the best fit for your purpose is:



The jungle mentality is Darwinism at its finest. The cream rises to the top and only the strongest survive. Rankings may even take place in this environment. Competition is everything. If Billy has one more sale than Carol, Billy is the better salesperson. Next week, if Carol sells one more than Billy, then Carol is the better salesperson.

The goal of this environment is to break people. In the Easton example, the professional teams are not allowed water breaks during training. The idea is to simulate a fight where you cannot take a timeout to get water. You must grind through and persevere. If you can survive an hour training session with no water, you can easily survive a 15-minute fight without a sip of water.

This jungle environment pops up in business all of the time. Wall Street is a great example of cutthroat tactics day in and day out. Seconds of time make the difference between profit and loss. There is no time to feel sorry for yourself because there is another deal to be made right now. After that deal is made, another one needs your attention immediately.

Production workers can develop a jungle mentality. If someone feels they are pulling the weight of a team member, frustration builds, and contempt for that person escalates. As a project manager, do you let this environment fester and become the way you want to do business, or nip it in the bud?

An only the strong survive atmosphere creates a high top end but eliminates most of the candidates. This environment is exclusive. You want the best of the best, no questions asked, and no excuses made. If you cannot make more widgets than the top performers, you may not have a job.



The community is important to the farming lifestyle. Everyone comes together, does their job, and the cumulative effort produces great results. The individual effort becomes part of the team results. If one person does not do their job, the task or project may not get done. The farm mentality requires equal effort by all.

This inclusive approach allows for more individuals to participate, but the ceiling for production may be lower than a jungle approach. Imagine a community garden. Each person involved has a job to do. Someone pulls weeds, waters the plants, harvests, and so on. If the weeds do not get pulled, that requires another individual to do double duty.

Now, the weeds get pulled, the plants get watered, but no one harvests the food, the bugs and animals take advantage. Each person’s role in the farm is as valuable as the next. It is not a competition as much as it is a necessity.

A project needs the estimator to bid the work, a scheduler to schedule, and a project manager to put it all together. If one of those parts breaks down, success is unlikely. The same goes for the team in the field. If the sewer crew falls behind, that puts the grading crew behind, which impacts the paving crew. This reliance on each other creates the farm mentality.



From his experience, Easton created his schools with the intention of the farm mentality. Everyone survives because they work together and rely on each other to do their chores. Each person walking through the door has their responsibility to be a good partner, listener, and practitioner.

If you decide you want to be the king, there is always someone bigger and badder that can tame your selfish desires. The top individual position is not as important as the top team standing. Easton as a school has become well known in the martial arts community.

This example is not to say they do not produce fantastic competitors at the highest levels. Again, these individuals get separated into a jungle atmosphere where competition reigns supreme. However, the overall mentality of the school is like a farm.

Weekend warriors come to learn a technique, get a good workout, and leave in one piece as they arrived. You can have top performers in a farm setting. A blend of the two approaches is best. Find out who thrives in the jungle, separate them from the farm group, and develop their talents.

What is your leadership style and goal?

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