This past hunting season, my friend Harry and I fought our way through the nastiest tangle I have damn near ever been in. We were cutting our way into the thick overgrown section of property that sits at the corner of the Saline, Michigan farm which I hunt from time to time in the later parts of season. As Harry did not know how difficult this adventure would be, I was able to sucker him into helping me hang a stand in the middle of this black hole of a property section where an aerial view told me that I needed to be.
A few years back in the same area, I had seen a couple nice out-of-range shooter bucks and several other deer but had also received a nasty case of poison ivy as the area is overgrown with it in every direction, from the ground up to the tops of the trees. I ended up with a case of poison ivy so bad that I bled from several areas of my body after scratching so deeply at it. The other problem with that stand was that it was about one-third of the way into where I knew in my soul that a stand really needed to be. Today, I was determined to get to the right spot to hang the tree stand, but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
Compounding the problem was the fact that over the past few years, the undergrowth had gone from thick to jungle-like. We call this piece the “Dirty 40” and the name is fitting as this 40-acre chunk beats you up trying to move your body through it, let along while carrying in climbing sticks and a tree stand that snags up every other step. Finally we arrive at the perfect tree that I had envisioned in the epicenter of this jungle, and it made me start thinking that sometimes in the woods, in life, and in business you got to get dirty and you got to get deep!
We all love to hunt from a nice, easy-to-access field-side cushy tree stand and kick back, but life chasing big bucks just ain’t that way most of the time. Rather when it comes to chasing the big bucks in business or in the field, it isn’t easy most of the time–it takes hard damn work! Having been a CEO of several companies over the last 15 years, I have seen a lot of deals come and go. I have closed my fair share of trophy deals in several business sectors and while we all wish it were easy to make it happen, most of the time that isn’t the case.
Nearly every business leader wishes that they could spend all of their time “on the business” and never be “in the business”. Let me tell you one thing about running companies that is factual and it’s a dirty little secret that many business leaders try and deny: in order to scale a business, in order to work through challenging problems, or in order to solve a crisis sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and get “in the business” and it won’t happen by staying “on the business”. That said, any good hunter or businessman is adamant about taking the path of least resistance, however this strategy often will not produce the trophy results you seek and instead you may need a machete to cut your way through the jungle. Sometimes you have to get dirty and you have to get deep!
Some of the longest, darkest, and most trying hunts have come deep in swamps where nobody else hunts. It is through staying the course, sitting through the elements, schlepping into the shit that eventually the persistence pays off, and as my boy Michael Waddell says, “Old Sad Daddy the Monarch of the Woods” comes walking to you. You can often feel when the moment is about to happen, but more often than not it comes after long, frustrating, anguishing hunts without seeing a single deer. Sure the guy on the field’s edge in the comfy stand sees a deer show and he may even catch a glimpse of a shooter buck, but almost always they will be out of range. This holds true in life and in business, so the sooner that we stop trying to constantly look for shortcuts and just start executing with a plan, the sooner your break through moment will come. Best of all this is a sustainable and realistic way to approach life!
My mom often says, “luck is at the side of the able navigator.” The able navigator knows that sometimes in life you got to get dirty and you got to get deep! So the next time you feel frustrated with your progress in business, life, or in the field my advice is to change up the strategy, put in the hard work and get a little dirty and get a little deep! You may find that by executing in this capacity luck starts coming your way.
I wish you all an amazing week and go get a little dirty!