I am by no means a hunter in the traditional sense. I know of many who hunt for sport – to enjoy the rush of adrenaline and thrill of the chase for adventure. While I may channel surf right past channels that exemplify the sport of the hunt, I do like to tune in and watch documentaries when hunting may necessary by the hunter for life and death.
I recently came across a documentary, the video above, that shared about the notion of persistence hunting. Persistence hunting is a hunting technique in which hunters use a combination of running, walking, and tracking to pursue prey to the point of exhaustion.
Can you imagine it? That instead of hunting a wild animal with a gun, bow, or spear, hunters pursue their prey to the point of utter fatigue? That, after expelling all of its powerful energy, the animal is beaten due to sheer weariness of physical strength. While I can’t fathom being tired to that degree from the view of the animal, I also can’t help but marvel at the prowess of the hunter. What type of characteristics and elements can be gleaned by the hunter?
Are there connections between the a hunter using the persistence hunting technique and us as leaders? As leaders, we may not be hunting animals for our own life, but there are similarities in character, attitude, and processes we can connect with on how we pursue our goals in life. Below are a few take-aways for you to consider:
In order to expend such energy and time, the hunter had to be focused. Although there were a myriad of animals and options to pursue, the hunter did not allow himself to be distracted. Too often as leaders, our goals are not focused enough. Or, they don’t properly use them to guide the work. Not only should their goals give them the focus on what to do, but they should also provide them with clarity to not pursue things that get in their way. Although leaders may all nod to the notion of creating a “Stop Doing” list, I rarely meet leaders that actually have kept that list and referred to it when other opportunities presented itself. How do you ensure you are focusing on the goal properly? How have you provided the proper focus on the goals for others in the organization? For us to be able to accomplish our goals, we need to have the same mindset as the hunter, if we want to maintain our energy and stamina.
The hunter knew that morning, that the hunt was going to happen that day. He knew well in advance that the hunt was going to be uncomfortable and tiring. To be ready, the hunter anticipated and prepared with the proper resources before the hunt even began. He had his water, and he was ready to run. As leaders in the planning stages, we tend to post positive quotes or watch cute videos reminding us that “change is messy”. Then, while in the midst of the work, we begin to receive obstacles, push-back, negativity, and roadblocks. As things appear to crumble, we recoil and wonder what went wrong. Leaders must sincerely acknowledge pursuing our goals will invoke conflict, and they must be ready. Do you have mechanisms built in to take a break when needed in order to keep pushing on? Have you provided the proper training and resources to equip everyone properly? Has there been the proper focus given to everyone throughout the organization to be mindful of the goal when initial set-backs take place? For us to continue pursing our goal, we need to ensure everyone is prepared.
The hunters know the animals. They know their habits, their rituals, their movements, theirs strengths, and their weaknesses. In the video above, the hunter was able to deduce which animal in the pack was slower than the others based on the size of the animal. Later when the hunter lost the animal in the thick brush, he spent time looking over the area and putting himself in the animal’s place to redirect himself. Leaders can equate this concept to setting targets and establishing the need to be data-driven. Yet, they sometimes spend too much time collecting the information in spreadsheets or colorful charts and pictures, and not enough time analyzing and responding to the movements from the data. They allow themselves to make excuses on what the data says, or doesn’t say, and changes the course out of fear or false pretense. Finally, they aimlessly wander in search of where to go next. Are you collecting the right information to track progress over time? Are you able to analyze the data properly for mid-course corrections when needed? For us to be able to attack our goals, we need to be expert trackers in knowing how to achieve our goal before we even begin to pursue it.
It is a spectacle to see the teamwork necessary in using the hunting persistence technique. The team worked together to spur each other on while working together to track the right animal. They never used words in their communication to choose the prey, make decisions on where to go, and determine the time to begin running after the animal. Leaders tend to desire a team, but not always share the plan with them. During the journey, leaders tend to be led by ego and forage ahead without bringing the team along. (Previously, I’ve shared the need for leaders to coach up – “Put Me In, Coach“). In turn, leaders in the team tend to shut down at the first signs of stress or obstacles. Do you involve your team in the planning stages and bring them along throughout the journey? Do you trust your leader and team through the difficult stages? For us to be able to attain our goals, we need to work together in the midst of obstacles and tension.
As leaders, we are no different than hunters as we work to conquer our goals. In the fast-paced age of instant gratification, we tend to treat change in short-term stages. Instead, we need to adopt a persistence hunting technique which fosters the focus, preparation, tracking, and teamwork. With these qualities, we will be able to lead our teams for significant and long-lasting change! GOOD LUCK!