SHARPEN YOUR SKILLS OUTDOORS We were created to naturally yearn for the outdoors. In ancient times, people spent a lot more time outdoors than in their homes. Shelter was a necessity for survival, a place for family, and a place to eat meals. Now, most people spend more time indoors than out. Most jobs are in offices, televisions must be watched on the sofa, or “it’s just too cold or hot outside.” But, you can change that. Besides improving your overall health, feeling better, and just enjoying God’s creation, outdoor activities actually sharpen the skills we use at work, in dealing with difficult people, getting through difficult times, and life itself. Some examples are preparing for a half marathon, playing golf, playing tennis, hiking, fishing, and hundreds more. All of these outdoor activities involve strategy, tactics, discipline, patience, and humility. Many people would guess correctly that my outdoor choice is hunting wild game. For me, becoming a better hunter helps me strive to be the best I can be at my job. While that may sound strange, particularly for non-hunters, or just an excuse to go hunting, allow me to illustrate why. 1. STRATEGY – A sound and flexible strategy is the most important aspect of any criminal case. Since it is November, I will focus on deer hunting to link the outdoors and work. I think I love deer hunting so much because of the strategic elements involved. First, you must become familiar with the land. Where are the bedding areas, feeding areas, hardwoods, pines, water, etc.? Then you must learn about the changing movement patterns of the deer on the property. These two tasks can sometimes take years to figure out. Each hunt on each day must be planned out. You must choose a location where the deer are currently moving through, a spot in that location where you are downwind of the area the deer usually appear, and decide what time to go in and out of the woods. Additionally, temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, moon cycles, and many other factors must be added to the overall strategy. 2. TACTICS – In order to fulfill your strategic purpose (obtaining the best possible outcome for a client or harvesting a mature buck), a number of tactics must be employed. A small sample includes using items to cover up your human scent, using “grunt calls” and other forms of deer vocalization, rattling antlers to imitate two bucks fighting, knowing when during the year to use deer calls and rattling, putting your deer stand in exactly the right place, finding a way to walk to and from your stand without scaring wildlife, choosing effective camouflage, and making sure that your weapon is accurate. 1. DISCIPLINE – Some lawyers and hunters begin their day well before the crack of dawn. Hunters must discipline themselves to get out of bed at an early hour to prepare gear, get to the hunting location, be ready to hunt just as the darkness becomes morning in the woods, and just be “one step ahead.” Discipline at work is obviously necessary to becoming successful at what you do. Doing the difficult things that require actions that may not be the most pleasant aspect of a case or project put all of the pieces together necessary for a job well done 2. PATIENCE – Patience is the greatest warrior in law and in the woods. For me, it is also the most difficult part of work and hunting. In the woods, I like to move around and tend to get impatient when deer are not constantly on the move. But, I have learned over the years that patience is critical in the deer woods. I hate to think about how many big bucks walked past my deer stand after I left the woods on morning hunts. In my law practice, patience from myself and my clients may be the most important aspect of a case. Well thought out and very deliberate decisions can be the difference between prison and probation in many instances. Hurried, “knee-jerk” reactions to developments in a case are dangerous and can lead to disastrous results. 3. HUMILITY – Hunting can be, and often is, an extremely humbling experience. Deer can see well during the day and night. Their sense of smell is just miraculous. They are also unpredictable. The best laid plans for the hunt are frequently ripped apart by the actual hunt in the woods. This usually happens just as you start believing that your hunting skills are better than they actually are. In reality, most ventures into the outdoors result in the hunter getting back into the truck without that big buck. Humility is one of the very top character qualities that a human being can possess. Those who lack humility are arrogant and insist that they do not need to keep learning because they already know it all. In a law practice, as well as other jobs, lacking humility is about as destructive as any character defect could be. Well, deer hunting is just one example of a non-work outdoor activity that can actually help a person become a better servant to their client, customer, or boss. I encourage you to get out and pursue healthy outdoor adventures that can benefit you in ways that you may not have imagined.