7 Lessons I Learned From a Hunting Dog

I recently had the opportunity to go pheasant hunting with several members of my family.  It was not exactly what I expected it to be, but I can honestly say I had a great time!  I will definitely go back.  As in most hunting, there was a lot of time where I was not getting to shoot my shotgun.  During these lulls of excitement I spoke to our guide about his hunting dog.  Here are 7 lessons I was able to from that hunting dog.  His name is Deuce, by the way.

hunting photo

  1. Train Hard.   Our guide, Nate was telling us all about the hard work that Deuce had put in to be able to track a bird in a field.  While it is true that some dogs have the natural ability to track, unless they train and practice on honing this skill it would be totally useless.  If he did not train then they may not stop short of the bird and scare him away before we got into position.  Worse yet, Deuce may have been playing with the bird before we had an opportunity to shoot at it.  (I say shoot at it, because, well… I may not have been a perfect marksman.)  The point is, Deuce did his job very effectively, stopping short and pointing at the bird, so we could get ready.  Just like Deuce, we all have natural abilities to do certain tasks.  I am sure you know at least some of the things that you are  naturally good at.  However, if you do not train and practice getting better at those things, they will not help you when you need them most.
  2. Know Your Goal.  Deuce knew what his goal was.  He knew what the bird he was hunting for smelled like.  Do you know what your goal is?  Do you know what it looks like?  Have you thought about how it will make your life better when you get there?  One of the best things you can do to achieve what you want is to set SMART goals.
  3. Keep Moving Forward.  No matter what was going on, that dog just keep on moving.  He knew that there was no possible way that he would be able to reach his goal, unless he kept on moving.  Sitting on your hands will not take you where you want to go.  There are times where it is necessary to pause, take a look around and make sure you are moving correctly.  Pausing can make it possible to correct course, but if you stay there too long, you will lose the scent.
  4. Test Your Boundaries.  It has been said, that if you have never failed, you have not been trying hard enough.  While on the hunt I asked why Deuce was always zig zagging.  I made the incorrect assumption that the fastest way to the dog’s goal was a straight line.  I was told that the smell that came from the bird was a cone.  The best way for Deuce to narrow down on the bird was to move in a zig zag pattern from the outside of the scent to the outside of the other side of the scent.  As he continued in this fashion the scent would get smaller and smaller, until it was finally resting in one spot in the field, where the bird was hiding.  It reinforced my belief that you have to test the boundaries of your skills in order to make it to your goal.  Sometimes we fail, but that does not mean you are a failure.  Failure is an occurrence, not a person.  You must be willing to fail in order see how good you can be.
  5. Stay Focused.  As we discussed above, sometimes moving in a zig zag pattern is best to get to your goal.  Sometimes it is easy to lose your focus while you are zigging and zagging, not Deuce.  He continued to focus on that scent no matter how wide he stretched.  I realized he was narrowing his focus by his movement, even though it appeared as if he was lost.  No matter what happens, even if a hunter in the field next to you fires his shotgun, you must stay focussed on your goal.
  6. Reach Your Goal.  WooHoo!  Congratulations!  You have reached your goal.  You have done everything you need to get the job done, and now you get to experience the reward.  In Deuces case, assuming that we were able to hit the bird with our shot, he was able to run, grab the bird, and bring it back to us.  That was what he really wanted the whole time.  He got the opportunity to revel in the admiration of his trainer.  You too can reach your goals, by doing the things that I learned from my buddy, Deuce.  It’s not over though…
  7. Start Towards Your New Goal.  If our guide had let Deuce have too much fun with that bird, there would have been nothing left for us to eat that night.  (Pheasant, wrapped in bacon cooked on the grill is quite tasty.)  We are the same way.  If you spend too much time celebrating the victory of a goal achieved, it will eat you up just like a bird a dog has played with for too long.  We have all met the guy that cannot let go of his sports victories in high school.  I personally do not want to be that guy.  (Although, I really enjoyed beating Calvary in soccer my Senior year of high school.)  The only way to avoid that trap, is to set and start moving toward the next target.  Pheasants are not big enough to feed the whole family.

Are you moving towards your goals with ‘Deuce Intensity’?


Four Ways to Make Your Resolutions Stick

Every year countless people (me included) come up with New Years resolutions only to have them fall by the wayside in a month or less.  This can be very discouraging, so I have come up with four to help make your resolutions easier to maintain.
duct tape
 1. Believe you can do it.  It is generally easy to come up with your resolutions.  Everybody knows what they need to do to become better at whatever it is that they desire to be better at.  The hard part is not knowing what to do, the hardest thing is doing it.  The first step in actually doing it is believing that it is possible.  If you begin your resolution thinking in the back of your head that it will never last, you will be right.  As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.”  It starts deep down in your heart.  If you do not truly believe it, don’t make it a resolution or change your thinking!
 2. Write them down and put them in a place where you will see them regularly.  I have written before about the importance of writing goals down, the principles are the same.  You can find that post here.
3. Involve an outside accountability partner.  It does not matter who your accountability partner is.  It can be a spouse, a friend, minister, trainer or a complete stranger for that matter.  The key is that they are willing to hold you accountable.  They have to be strong enough to call you out when you make excuses.  We all have reason for not doing things.  Sometimes they are even valid.  If you want to lose weight, hire a trainer that is going to be calling you to make sure you are showing up.  If you are like me, when you put money on the table, you will be sure to use the service because who wants to waste money!?!  If you do not want to hire a trainer, enlist someone to work out with.  If you know someone is waiting on you, you are far less likely to leave them hanging.
4. Create a system that will help you succeed.  Now that you have an accountability partner, have written down your resolutions, put them on your bathroom mirror, and believe that you can do it, it is time to create systems that will help you to succeed.  Staying with the weight loss analogy, pack your lunch.  If you leave your house to go to work without a nutritious lunch packed when it becomes noon time you will go back to old faithful (for me this is a McDouble with no mustard from McDonalds).  That is not going to help you lose weight.  Instead of parking right by the front door at the office, park at the back of the lot, so you have no choice but to walk those extra steps.  Use the steps instead of the elevator.  The important thing is to change your behavior and to create systems around your resolutions that will help you succeed.
Remember, if you do fall, it is only considered a failure if you do not get back up.
What are some processes that you have used to make your resolutions stick?
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