Life Lessons in Leadership and Motivation: Solving Problems I Didn’t Know I Had

God works in mysterious ways.  I just received some answers to problems I didn’t even realize I had. 

Just a few moments ago I stepped out on my back balcony to calm myself from the chaos of my day.  All I expected from this soiree to the balcony was a bit of sunshine and a cool breeze.  I just needed a break.

It became so much more.

I believe we can all learn about ourselves, about leadership and about motivation – all from the herd of deer that decided to cross through my back field on an exceptionally sunny and breezy Colorado day.  In this rare moment of tranquility I watched a valuable life lesson unfold.   Talk about perfect timing!

You are probably thinking:  “Um, Torrey?  Yeah, honey…that’s really weird if you ask me.  How the hell do you equate deer to humans?  Clearly we are not alike.  And you say God must have had something to do with it?  Are you sure you are okay?”

No, I haven’t lost my mind.  Yet.  It was a very powerful demonstration if you ask me.  To show the value in what I saw and how every one of us can learn from it, I’ll do my best to explain:

A herd of about a dozen deer came up from the bottom of our property and crossed over the fencing to get into our back pasture.

The first deer jumped the fence.  It did so with such grace and beauty that it made me hold my breath to watch.  It made the height of the fence seem effortless.  It wasn’t afraid.  It was determined.  It was hungry.  Its path was as clear as the day it was living in.

This is where I think to myself:  {Yeah!  Come on over and getchee some!  I’ve got 4 acres of grass to share!}  I give thanks for the blessing of peace that it brought me.  Little did I know there was more to it…so much more.

The second deer hesitated, but still followed.  It jumped the fence too.

The third deer hesitated even more, pausing long enough to decide to belly crawl under the lowest wire.

So did the fourth deer.  The fifth, and so on.

They were putting out way too much effort just to get the same result, I thought to myself.  If anything, I figured their cute bellies were dirtier and their backs were a little roughed up.  How inefficient!

Finally, the last two deer came up to the fence line.   By then the first deer was well ahead of the herd.  The graceful first jumper was already grazing and reaping the rewards of his effort.  He picked his own patch of grass and got right to it.  All the while, the rest of the herd was still trying to jockey around the field and find their place to eat, as if the 4 remaining acres of golden goodness growing inside our fence weren’t enough to live off of.  Once they got there, they didn’t know their place in the field.

This is when I really started to notice something even more spectacular unfolding before my very eyes.

The last two deer just stood there for a minute and started pacing from afar.  They tried to find a break in the fence, but there was no break in the fence.  They HAD to go over or under.  There was no other choice.

The amount of time they spent hesitating and pacing around put them in danger.  They had broken away from the herd entirely.

I predicted one of two things happening:  The last two deer would either crawl under the fence or they’d just sit there and pace back and forth and go hungry.  They totally didn’t come off as “jumpers” at all.

They surprised me.

They both went over just as gracefully as the first two does had done.  I lost my breath once again while watching it all play out.

I wondered out loud, halfway muttering how dumb they were, halfway admiring how smart they ended up being.

I thought to myself, why didn’t they just jump in the first place?  Why did they waste so much time over-thinking things?  Did the first two deer not demonstrate how easy it was to just jump?  Did the remaining deer fail to show them another alternative way to get through?

Then I had an ‘ah-hah’ moment.  An imaginary light bulb came on, as if I had just woken up.  Someone flipped a switch and I began to see the congruency.

Those first and last two deer were ME.

What the Herd of Deer Taught Me:

Right now in my life, I am an example of the last two deer.  I remember times in my life that I was an example of the first two deer.  In fact, it represents the majority of my life.

How in the hell did I lose sight of that and get stuck at the back of my herd?

If I am going to end up jumping anyway, why not do it from the get-go and get right to it?

One thing was for sure:  I never want to be any of the deer that fell in between.  Getting my belly dirty and roughing myself up unnecessarily isn’t my style.

I think the last two deer chose to go over the fence because they saw how the herd was moving further away.  Realizing how far behind they were, they must have panicked.  They had to move quickly or lose their herd entirely.  At the very least, they would just go hungry while they burned valuable energy by pacing the fence line hoping it would go away.  God help them if a predator came along.

Like I said, that’s me right now.  I am falling behind because I keep over-thinking the process.  I know how to jump, dammit.  Why didn’t I?  I realized I had gotten into a rut, malingering in the “what-if’s” that life keeps presenting me.  While I sit there and over-think everything, I am also hoping that somehow my obstacles will magically disappear.

I miss jumping over my obstacles and getting right to it.  I’m also getting pretty darned tired.  And, I am HUNGRY.

About Leadership and Motivation:

I am a natural leader, I don’t follow very well.  Unfortunately, I had no control over some of the people come up behind me while they crawled on their bellies. I can’t help them jockey around their fields while they decide where their patch of grass really is.

My motivation got way-layed with too many distractions, too many stressors, too many people holding me down.  Yet, here I am, jumping the fence like I should have done in the first place, but doing it as a last resort instead of a first choice.

Don’t be ‘that deer’ who ended up panicking because they spent too much time talking themselves out of jumping, just to end up doing it anyway.  Trust me, it sucks.

Thank you, Lord, for showing me that lesson.  I know I can’t fix anything unless I realize it is a problem to begin with.  Now I know.

So, what kind of deer are you?  What kind of deer would you rather be?  Did this story help you in any way?  If so, leave me a comment and let’s discuss this some more!

About The Author

Torrey Shannon

My name is Torrey Shannon and I am a writer, author, blogger, movie consultant, speaker, veteran's advocate and Blue Star Mom. I am also a full-time caregiver and spouse of a wounded warrior. My husband survived a gunshot wound to the head in a gunfight in Iraq in 2004 after serving in the Army for more than 23 years. We spent three years of his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He has severe PTSD and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Dealing with the invisible wounds of war first-hand allows me to bring a human element to the problems our military communities face. Blogging gives me the chance to do what I love the most: write about life after combat and help create awareness and solutions for military members and their families. When I am not writing here, I freelance for a variety of publications and media outlets and am currently writing a book.