I am perched up high in a big Aspen tree alongside a small lake in Antrim County, Michigan and the beautiful nine-point is standing beneath me thrashing on a tree. He looks up the base of the tree and his eyes come all the way up to meet mine. The shot angle is poor and a fatal hit does not seem likely, so I stand there with my bow drawn staring this animal down. My heart is exploding out of my chest and the old buck can feel something is not right. My muscles feel like someone is holding a blow torch to my shoulders and back. There I am, stuck in an uncomfortable moment of silence, and I need to hold my position.
How many times have you been in a meeting or in a confrontation with a partner, and just as you are closing on a big moment, a silent stare down ensues? You know the feeling, where the other person is staring you down to look for any sign of weakness or uncertainty. In your mind you know that if you can hold the stare and not crack, you win–but few can do this effectively and most start nervously talking too soon and lose the opportunity for closure.
Countless times throughout my career, in relationships, and in a tree stand I have faced this moment. Too often I have blown it and I begin to nervously start talking and as I am doing it–I know I am turning myself into prey instead of the predator, pulling my “blue steel” and at the right time releasing my arrow! You remember the movie Zoolander and the “blue steel,” or Derrick Zoolander’s signature modeling pose. In life, those who can get through the uncomfortable moment of silence and make it a moment where you pull the blue steel get through it and win! You need to learn to love this moment and once the uncomfortable becomes comfortable you have turned the corner towards more achievement in life!
The old buck finally appears to be comfortable and moves forward. Although I am shaking like a leaf from muscle exhaustion combined with adrenaline, I am able to place my 20-yard pin behind his shoulder. As I release the arrow I know I have survived the moment and pulled off my blue steel. I watch my arrow hit hard, as if it is moving in slow motion and by the reaction of the animal I know he is mine.
If you find yourself botching great opportunities for closure in life whether in the field or in the boardroom, you should ask yourself how you are doing with the uncomfortable moment of silence. When you learn to hold your position and not release the arrow too soon, you may be surprised how often your trophy moves into the kill zone.