I am not a hunter. I do, however, have a vivid memory of my dad taking me with him into the woods to hunt one day. Now, anyone who knew my dad is scratching his/her head now because my dad also wasn’t a hunter. He tried his hand at hunting a few times..after all we did live in the deep south….and this was one of those times.
I was young, probably around 9 or 10 when this adventure occurred. . As the middle girl between 2 boys, I sometimes struggled to find my identity. I liked lacy dresses and ribbons, but I also liked to play king of the hill on top of the largest dirt mound in the neighborhood. (Much to the chagrin of my mother). So, when my dad asked me if I would like to go hunting one morning, I was delighted to be chosen. As my brothers looked on jealously, I hopped into the car, excited to be having this adventure with my dad
As he drove towards our camphouse, my dad explained that when we got into the woods, I would have to be very quiet. If I was not quiet, the deer would hear me and run away. I nodded my head solemnly as I listened. Hunting, I realized, was very serious business.
When we arrived at the “hunting woods”,I was determined to remember my dad’s warning about not scaring off the deer. I carefully got out of the car and followed him into the tangle of trees and bushes. The woods were cool with a soft breeze, like a gentle whisper blowing through the branches of tall pine and oak. Expectantly, I peered through brush and over the small mounds to try and catch a glimpse of our prey. We walked slowly, deeper and deeper into the trees until the entrance of the woods closed in behind us.
After what seemed forever, my dad, who was ahead, slowly reached out his hand stop my progress. He put his finger to his lips and then pointed through the trees ahead. As I followed his finger with my gaze, I saw a beautiful deer grazing on the soft grass in a clearing. . He was pretty far ahead of us but I could see how beautiful he was with tawny fur and two branch-like antlers. . To me, it was a breath taking sight!
Then, I saw my dad slowly raise up a large gun.
My first thought was “Where did that come from?”
My second thought was ” What is he doing with it?”
When I realized he meant to shoot that deer, I yelled out…
” Run, deer, run!”.
I think I scared my dad more than the deer, as he visibly jumped ! But the deer ran off into a thick brush, disappearing from view.
And my dad looked mad.
And he never took me hunting again.
Later, after ranting all the way home and ranting to my mother about what I did, he eventually calmed down. In his effort to figure out my my reaction on the hunting trip, He decided I must have been afraid of the gun. So he took me and my brothers target practice shooting. We drove down to the red clay gravel pit behind the old camp house on Coon Trail Road ( seriously, I can’t make these names up if I tried). When we arrived, Dad set up a bullseye on the cliff wall and tried to explain to me how to shoot a 22 rifle.
He discussed how it could “kick me” (my understanding, not his words) if I didn’t hold it right and proceeded to show me multiple times the correct stance. He demonstrated how to line up the sight to the target and how to pull the trigger.
Armed with all the knowledge, I thought I was ready. With my brothers sniggering beside me I really wanted to show them and to make my dad happy again. So, I lifted the rifle as demonstrated.
My dad called out…
“Wait! I’m not ready!” I cried.
Louder sniggering erupted from the boys as I dropped my arms to my side.
Ok, Sister Bell, dad said. Take your time and Let me know when you’re ready.
I took a deep breath, raised up the rifle again. I peered through the sight, centering my focus on.the target. I nodded.
Dad repeated. “Ready…aim…fire!”
I squeezed the trigger, the violent combustion sounded in my ears and the bullet exploded into the air…and INTO THE TARGET!
Well, on the outer band of the target, but on the target nevertheless. And I, although warned of the recoil…fell on my butt in the dirt.
However, I was not deterred. I got up and tried again. And, the more I tried, the better I got at target practice.
However, despite my growing proficiency with the 22, I still refused to go hunting ever again. ( Because it never was the gun I was afraid of).
I equate my shooting lesson with the 22, with goal setting and achieving outcomes.
Positive thinking proponents write that if we believe we can achieve something we can. I dont think it is that simple. Yes, believing in yourself and being confident are important. But there are other steps to achieving goals. Think of these three words…
In my story, I wanted to hit the target with all my heart. First, just to accomplish it, then to make my dad proud and finally to shut up my brothers. I had all the instructions and knowledge of how to accomplish it. Plus, I saw the technique demonstrated multiple times. But when the first opportunity came, I was not ready. Fear, anxiety, uncertainty took over and I could not perform the necessary steps to achieve my goal.
Timing is everything. When you are setting up your goal, make sure you understand all that is involved and you are ready to proceed. If you begin before you have the right experience, the right funding, the right people in place and the process well thought out, you could falter before you even get started. I have seen great ideas falter because the timing wasn’t right.
I recently talked to an employee from another agency, who couldnt understand why they were being passed up on promotional opportunities within their company. Their goal was to rise to the top. In their mind, they had paid their dues and it was time. I tried to explain this concept of readiness not as a chronological construct but as a pre-cursor to success. By looking at the demands and expectations of the promotion, they were finally able to see some process of their own growth that needed tending. The employee said that they felt less de-valued and more focused on getting themselves ready.
Taking aim! Once you are ready and equipped to go forward, focus on the outcome you desire. Keep your eyes on the prize at all times, never wavering at the distractions around you. Naysayers will resound in your ears, but if you are aiming at the outcome you will not be deterred. If you continue moving forward, soon those distractions will fade like buzzing gnats. Even if you get knocked on your butt at first, adjust your stance, square your legs, plant your feet and keep going. This the hardest part of innovation and why you must truly be ready first.
As you continue the process towards achievement, you will learn to master the recoil. Small setbacks will not deter you.
Then, when you are fully ready…and completely focused with your aim…
Your bullet will hit the mark!