“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius
By Mark Kenyon
There’s not much that we can say for sure about the upcoming hunting season, but this I can guarantee; you will fail.
You, me, your hunting buddy down the street, the famous TV show host – we’ll all fail in one way or another this coming season. I know that might sound grim or pessimistic, but it’s just the simple truth of it, and understanding this reality is actually pretty damn powerful. (Stick with me …)
If you’re being honest with yourself, you know that not everything this season is going to go as you hope. You might make a bad decision, or blow a shot or maybe the neighbor will shoot your target buck, or maybe you’ll lose hunting access. I don’t know what failure or obstacle might arrive in your path, but I do know that something will happen – it always does. But there’s good news.
Those failures or obstacles or challenges – they don’t always have to be such a bad thing. If we can come to terms with these obstacles, have a plan for dealing with them and then allow ourselves to move forward and grow from having that experience – we can come out better for it in the end.
So Step 1 in dealing with this future reality is just accepting that you’re going to have challenges or failure or obstacles in the coming months. Trespassers might steal your trail camera, you might hit and wound your #1 target buck, you might lose your lease the day before the rut, you might hunt 30 days straight and never see a shooter. Sit there right now and just think about that, let it sink in and process what that might feel like. The frustration, the struggle, the disappointment. Now squash that feeling and make yourself a promise. Whenever that challenge arises, you will not let it get the best of you. You absolutely will not.
Fast forward to hunting season – something unexpected/challenging/frustrating/crappy has happened, so now what? Well first off, this “thing” won’t feel quite as bad as it might have in past years, because you were expecting it. You already thought about this kind of potential issue and felt this potential disappointment, you’ve steeled your nerves for this moment and you’ve already promised yourself that you would deal with it. So now you deal with it.
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” – Ryan Holiday
Perception is reality. My wife told me this a long time ago during a “relationship conversation”, and while I didn’t like it at the time, it’s true. Obstacles, challenges, things, events – how we perceive (interpret, frame, explain, think about) these things ultimately becomes what they are and how we experience them. So when you hypothetically miss that buck, you have the event and then you have how you perceive that event – how you interpret it, think about it, deal with it. The miss happened in the past, so you can’t change that. But you can change how you perceive and react to it. This is where we can make a big change.
Most hunters miss that buck (or screw up in whatever way they did) and then let it consume them with frustration. And it’s OK to feel that way for a bit, but resolve yourself to feel it for a few minutes or an evening, and then let it go. Now it’s time to look at the obstacle differently. The obstacle is the way.
What can you learn from this challenge? How can you grow from this experience? The past is the past – so what action can you take now to make the most of the situation?
Answer those questions for yourself honestly, take that action, and then have the willpower to move forward. Because that’s all we can ever do. Acknowledge the reality of the past and then move forward.
So this hunting season, when things get tough, come back to this post and remember this simple advice. Yea, maybe this is a little hippy dippy and philosophical compared to your usual hunting strategy stuff, but nothing is more important to hunting success than our minds and our willpower. Too many hunters let the negative crap that pops up every hunting season get them down, they let it drain their energy, they let it suck the fun out the experience, they let it steer them away from their goals. I’m guilty of it too, but we don’t need to let it be this way.
Plan for that failure, accept that there will be obstacles, adjust your attitude and perception, and then move forward to bigger and better things. Because after all, you’re hunting. And things could be a lot worse.
If you want to read more on this topic, check out the book “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday, my inspiration for this blog post.