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February 11th, 2019
Regardless of one’s opinions or stance on the activity of hunting, few can argue against a good walk in the woods. After enough years, this seems to be what hunters talk about the most. Hunts are not always successful and if there’s too much focus on that lack of success, it’s easy to have the time in the natural elements seem ruined.
We might imagine the best of all possible trips. This has far less to do with what is being hunted and it has everything to do with the hunter, for if we cannot figure out how to enjoy and relish the time while we chase our dreams, not only is the goal less fulfilling if we make it happen, but we’ve also simply wasted time. The moment of achievement with this or that goal is not long lasting. There is the time before such goals are realized and then there comes the moment when reality is different because of our efforts, our perseverance and our ingenuity. Then that moment passes, and while it makes for a good memory to smile about when reflecting on such efforts and potential success, this is not a way forward into the future.
The good hunter is not out for blood and gore in the way the largest detractors of such practice make it out to be. At it’s most basic, hunting is a way to engage with the natural world, not in the killing, but more in the emersion in the environment. It says a great deal that many conservation efforts with regards to environmental health were initiated by hunters. Theodore Roosevelt is perhaps the best example of this. Not only a President of the United States, but a life-long hunter who established America’s National Forests, bird Reserves, game preserves and the National parks as protected National entities. Such circumspection does not mesh well with the laser-focused character who thirsts after one gory goal like Captain Ahab.
What is at hand is the appreciation of a complete experience. A hunter with the perspective embodied by Roosevelt harks more of a gardener who is concerned with a larger picture, as opposed to our kamikaze whaling Captain who thinks about nothing but the end.
This dichotomy is potentially our most important. So often we are just waiting for something to be over. Whether we be waiting in line at the bank or counting down the minutes until work is over for the day, or even waiting for someone to finish talking. Much of our mindset is characterized by that Captain Ahab. We are focused on getting to the end. This is often true even when it comes to beautiful moments.
It’s as though our restless and relentless anxiety around certain ideas of success has an inertia and momentum that carries such feelings and tints of perspective into the most important and enjoyable instances of life.
Here our analogy of the hunter as conservationist becomes particularly poignant. What exactly created the need and impetus for Roosevelt to declare National Parks and National Forests? Corporate interests are traditionally relentless and ruthless in their pursuit of a particular brand of success and this often requires the consumption of natural resources for conversion into consumer products. Such a description certainly invokes an eerie reminiscence of our blood thirsty whaling captain who trudges on in the name of the kill. Ironically, it was a hunter who sought to protect these natural landscapes from such single-minded entities.
To be fair, many corporate entities do not invoke this model of business, and increasingly today, companies are popping into existence that are attempting to do the more difficult work of succeeding with the conversationalist mindset. Tesla is perhaps a good if potentially controversial example. It’s stated mission is to speed up the worlds transition from fossil fuels to solar energy. It’s certainly not too much of a stretch to draw parallels between Elon Musk and Theodore Roosevelt. In each sense they are both hunters. Roosevelt was actually a hunter and certainly had the capacity for single-minded drive. And Musk perhaps epitomizes the single-minded focus of a hunter, an innovator who generates his own gravity for goals lined up like dominoes. And yet each both held in mind the larger picture, and sought to make their single-minded efforts honor the revelations of that larger picture.
Whether we analyze the perspective from a business standpoint, or an environmental one or even a personal one, a single concept emerges as a key ingredient. This is the Well-Oiled Zoom, as described in Episode 54 of Tinkered Thinking.
Both Elon Musk and Roosevelt exercised such a zoom. Looking at the bigger picture and then zooming into the here-and-now to figure out which actions best honor the bigger picture.
On an individual level we are best served by Pausing and doing something similar. When we feel restless in a circumstance that is supposed to be pleasant, we might pause and ask: why? Often such emotions, like nagging children, just need a little bit of attention, and when noticed and acknowledged, they melt away, leaving us free to enjoy the hunt.