Outside of growing up with Mom and Dad, going off to college and then into the Air Force, working for a living, getting married and raising kids; outside of all that, there are many other events and circumstances through the years that have changed my life; our safaris in Africa was one of them.
Our family trips to Africa provided an opportunity to experience things that a country boy from Missouri would likely never have been exposed to; things like proper dining, professional hunters, wildlife conservation, native trackers and the unique animals and natural wonders of the dark continent. There was also time to read, and for deep, critical thinking, during the long hours tracking elephant and buffalo – with nothing to do on the track but think and walk. All of these things, and more, allowed Africa to change my life.
Today, I hold the fork in my left hand and the knife in my right; that’s the “proper” way to hold them when dining, and it’s something we’ve seen everywhere we’ve been in Africa. Serving the ladies first, eldest to youngest; then the gentlemen – in the same order, creates a bit more order around the dining table. Everyone
waiting until the eldest lady has started her soup, entrée, or dessert is something our family practices at home and everywhere we go. Africa gave me an entirely new way to think about dining.
Coming to understand the courtesy, the passion, the patience, the work ethic, the fitness and the courage, of the many Professional Hunters (PHs) we’ve hunted with, taught me to expect more of myself than I might have otherwise expected. Who wouldn’t want all of those attributes?
The natural world of Africa includes some interesting trees, plants and animals, along with spectacular sunsets and awesome views of the moon and stars. One cannot help but spend more time appreciating and thinking about nature. Wildlife conservation is constantly at war with encroaching civilization and poaching in Africa – and we’re losing the war; but wildlife conservation in the United States is something to be proud of and to vigorously continue to support.
Earning the respect of others and developing a high level of confidence are two of the most basic characteristics of leadership. Hunting dangerous game in Africa and developing a larger perspective of the world, have been instrumental in my development as a leader – further changing my life.