Bowhunting Coach: Attitude is Everything
Posted on December 11, 2011
By Joe Bell
Life can be very trial-based at times. As bowhunters, we know that, and what we make of difficult situations or circumstances will define our character the most. The key here I believe is attitude. Will we choose to keep our chin up and handle adversity with a positive mindset? Or will we focus on the negatives and exhaust our efforts on being pessimistic?
I know I’ve been hit with some serious trials. This past fall/winter was one of the toughest for me. As I’ve written about in a past column, I injured my elbow last October, and now, recently, I also hurt my knee by training too hard on my mountain bike (and likely from all the aggressive hiking/backpacking and improper training I’ve done over the years).
I went from being overly confident as a sports enthusiast to feeling incapable as a human being. For the first time in my life, I had experienced the mental overload of being “injured” and having to stay on the sidelines. I’ve never had to do that before. Control has always been a huge part of my life—until now.
In a sense, without control of the prospects, my attitude took a complete nosedive, and I found myself feeling dismal about everything—and I mean everything. I knew recovery from my injuries would take a great deal of time and effort. Only patience, persistence and months of healing/training time would determine a positive outcome. My heart had changed overnight, and I wasn’t liking it.
However, in some strange way, could this ordeal be more of a blessing than a curse? Possibly so.
I have a saying posted in my office. It reads, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions; Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
These words have certainly inspired me, but I don’t think this philosophy can hold true unless we surrender our control to our circumstances and focus our efforts more heavily on our attitudes.
In bowhunting, I’ve always known the importance of attitude, and I always thought I had a pretty good one. But now, I’m realizing that I don’t think we can truly discover new levels of attitude until we endure hardship and survive it. It could be the only way.
In “Wilderness Mulie,” by Ed Fanchin (see page 28), we are reminded of attitude and how it helps us bowhunt more effectively. He writes, “Keep a Positive Attitude,” as part of his 10-step success plan. “It’s a difficult and challenging endeavor … Understand that you are going to have some lows, and you need to know how to turn things around mentally.”
To turn things around mentally. Those are crucial words to abide by. With them, we can increase our strength and change ourselves for the better.
Is it easy? Heck, no, but even the worst situations can be overcome with the right mindset.
A stellar example comes from one of my good bowhunting buddies. I spoke to him just a few days ago, and he relayed horrible news. His family’s manufacturing plant in Oklahoma was the target of an F4 tornado. It destroyed the plant completely. Insurance would cover some of the damage, but not all of it, and they were in the middle of their heaviest work year ever. He had trailers to make and employees to employ. People were relying on his company’s profits to feed their families, and all of it was now resting on his and his dad’s shoulders.
The sound of his voice was heart-wrenching as he tried to summarize things for me, but his attitude appeared extraordinarily intact; no doubt it is the same one he relies on to bowhunt well.
“I don’t know what to say,” he told me. “But the silver lining in all this is that no one was in the building, and that I know that the Good Lord has put this in my path for a reason. Really, there’s nothing left to do but to rebuild and keep looking up. I’m good, my family is good, and I believe I’ve got enough ‘gas in the tank’ to turn this around.”
Armed with the right attitude, there’s nothing we can’t do, whether it relates to bowhunting or the challenges we face in life. We always have a choice when facing harsh times: to stay positive and remain strong in our hearts in order to persevere and overcome the struggle; or to remain pessimistic and weakened in heart, to where the struggle rules us.
Time has proven to me that there’s only one sensible choice here, and that is to remain positive in attitude.