Every year, I take a “mini-vacation” in the middle of March. I spend a few days at the hunting camp in Meriwether County pursuing the Eastern Wild Turkey. Turkey hunting is one of my passions. It is also challenging, strategy based, and requires the hunter to make quick decisions.
Even though hunting is not considered to be work, the experiences in the woods actually provide some strong benefits that can make us better at our work. Turkey hunting sharpens a hunter’s job and life skills regardless of what line of work a person is involved in.
However, challenging passions such as mountain biking, hiking, volunteering, and many others can sharpen those skills as well.
Here are just some of the skills that turkey hunting can sharpen:
1. DISCIPLINE – Most turkey hunts begin well before the crack of dawn. You must get out of bed at an early hour to prepare your gear, get to your hunting location, and be ready to hunt just as the darkness becomes morning in the woods. If you are driving from home in the morning, this includes driving time which makes it necessary to get up and going even earlier.
Discipline at work is obviously necessary in order to be successful. Doing the difficult things that require actions that may not be the most pleasant aspect of a case or project puts all of the pieces together necessary for top performance.
2. PATIENCE – In The Art of War, Sun Tzu says,”One who is prepared and waits for the unprepared will be victorious.” This is always true. However, for me, patience is the most difficult part of hunting. I like to move around and tend to get impatient when a gobbler does not come right to my calls. But, I have learned over the years that patience is critical in the turkey woods, courtroom, and in life.
Last year, I was set up near a road on my property and was calling to a gobbler for about two hours. He kept gobbling, but would not come close enough to my location. I was just about to get up and head back to the Jeep when he, along with several other birds, appeared right in front of me on the road. He eventually moved within 30 yards and was harvested.
The practice of patience at work and with other people is vital to achieving the best outcomes for clients, customers, and ourselves. In order to achieve the best possible results for clients, both the client and I must exercise patience. Well developed plans 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 reckless, dangerous, and lead to disastrous results.
3. HUMILITY – Hunting the elusive Eastern Wild Turkey can, and often is, an extremely humbling experience. Turkeys are very intelligent animals gifted with sharp eyesight. 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 to me just as I start believing that my hunting skills are better than they actually are.
Being humble is important in so many ways. Those who lack humility tend to come across as arrogant, treat their staff poorly, treat co-workers and others with contempt, and/or insist that they can handle any problem alone. Lacking humility is about as destructive as any character defect could be. No one wants to do business with, associate with, or be around an arrogant man or woman.
4. FLEXIBILITY – The best leaders are flexible. They have the ability to quickly adapt to changes in cases, the marketplace, political shifts, etc. Most turkey hunts require the hunter to change locations, calls, and tactics based on how the gobblers are acting and reacting to the hunt. Sticking to the original playbook during every hunt results in failure. While I have made the wrong decision in the woods many times, I have learned that the more flexible I can be, the better chance I have for success.
Turkey hunting is just my example of a “non-work activity” that can actually help a person become better at their job and navigating life.
What is yours? I encourage you to get out and pursue that adventure that can benefit you in ways that you may not have thought of.