Personal Drive and Discipline
By Tom Brown, Jr.
Many times students will say to me they wish they had a mentor like Stalking Wolf. My
answer to them is: I doubt that many people could have learned from him because of the way
he taught. Much of the pressure to learn was put on Rick and I, answers never coming easy.
We were very dedicated to our mission of knowledge, and gave up many things children of
our age normally did to pursue that lust for knowledge.
The reason most people could not learn from Grandfather today is that they lack the
drive and discipline, or rather the obsession, it took to learn from him. I think that
most people assume that Stalking Wolf stood over us watching our every move and answering
our every question. I wish!
When Stalking Wolf told us to go ask the mice, few people realize what that fully
entailed. We watched mice every spare moment for about six months without seeing
Grandfather but once. We laid on our bellies so much that I developed a callous ridge
along my lower rib cage, and my knees were forever bleeding from housemaid's knees. Few
people I know today would give up the time or have the intense desire to learn in this
Most people want to be handed things. They expect everything to be in black and white
as it was in high school or college, but with the outdoors and the old skills, it just
isn't so. Somewhere in the back of students, minds they think there is a magic pill that
will make them instant trackers and survivalists. There is no magic pill.
My school takes a lot of dirt time off of a person's personal career. Things I teach,
in a few moments, to a class took me sometimes years of hard work to develop, and I wonder
if it is ever appreciated. There is no substitute for dirt time - yet many of the same
people that will not dedicate any real dirt time to the skill want to start their own
schools, thinking my school is the ultimate substitute for all dirt time.
|In a recent class, I was asked repeatedly by students what a particular sound was that
was coming from a nearby cedar swamp. None of the students on that Advanced Tracking Class
had enough drive to go and find out for themselves what was making the sound. Sure, I
could have told them it was a Black-Billed Cuckoo, but they would have learned nothing. At
what point do I stop giving away the skills and understandings, and allow the students'
personal drive to take over?
The whole point of this article is to say that there is no substitute for dirt time. It
takes a lot of dedication, drive, and yes, obsession. Sure, by taking my classes you
advance your skills years ahead, but it should not be a replacement for dirt time. You
will only be as good as the time you put into learning these things. It's up to you to
develop the personal discipline and sacrifice that will make you the best you can be.
Don't sell yourself short with a lazy attitude.