As a boy growing up in Wisconsin, Fall only meant one thing, deer hunting season.
It was one of the most exciting weeks while simultaneously being one of the most miserable weeks every single year, waking up before the sun, and therefore the deer, to make sure you can be sitting up in a tree (in freezing weather I might add) in hopes of gaining the advantage of surprise. Most of my time was spent sitting there for hours on end, freezing my butt off, staring at the vast number of trees while hoping to see any sort of movement that resembled a deer. It was miserable at best. However, the suffering always seemed worth it in the anticipation of finally seeing the buck of my dreams.
As the week of deer season progressed, and the lack of deer became more evident, we would perform what is commonly called “drives”. This is the act of assembling a line of hunters, walking side-by-side, with about 20’-30’ between one another attempting to push any deer toward the other hunters who are standing where the deer are most likely to emerge from the woods.
As a 12-year-old kid, this was THE WORST part of the week. The few kids in our hunting group were basically the work-horses doing the hard work while all the old-fat-guys sat waiting for the deer to appear, no offense if you’re an old, fat guy (remember, I was 12). When I describe the forests of Wisconsin, many people imagine something from a Disney movie, beautiful green trees with soft, open walking paths between each. In reality, this is some of the thickest, densest forest and swamp land. Deer aren’t just going to stand out in the open where they are easily spotted.
On one of these “drives,” I was on the end of a group which was walking through the woods. What should have been a simple task with me walking straight ahead to the other end of the trees turned into me getting separated from the group. (I still swear that they left me, but they say otherwise…) Shortly, I found myself with a deer bursting out of the brush directly in front of me, nearly knocking me to my back. The shock was quickly overshadowed by the realization and fear that the deer was followed by the sound of bullets whistling past my head. I dropped to the ground faster than you can say “hot bullets”.
Yes, I survived without a scratch, and it taught me a very valuable life lesson. You have to keep an eye on where everyone else is going otherwise you’ll get lost in the woods with bullets coming at you.
When we first start on a new construction project, it’s always filled with excitement for the new opportunity along with some apprehension of all the work and the unknowns. As the project progresses, we need to come down from up in the trees and walk through the woods with the rest of our team. This is when the hard work starts. Everyone wants to be that guy standing at the end of the woods waiting for the hard work to be completed, but without those in the woods, he’s going to be waiting a long time for the end goal.
As we stomp and crawl our way over all the obstacles, we need to keep an eye on those next to us. We mustn’t become separated and allow others to be left behind because we are so focused on the end prize. When this happens, people can get caught in the crossfire. We all need to stick and work together to come out thriving, and I’m not just talking about construction projects. This applies to your company, your friends, and your family. None of us can do this on our own.
I still haven’t found the buck of my dreams, but it’s the knowing that he’s out there somewhere that makes all the hard work worth it.
Enjoy the hunt, but don’t become lost in the woods.