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Uphill Goals and Downhill Habits

By Joey Havens

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Businessman observes the road uphill in front of him.

My grandson Davis (17) loves to deer hunt. Teaching him the sport and the importance of caring for and managing the deer all during the year is certainly one of my favorite life experiences.

We spend a significant amount of resources in time and money as we work to provide a great habitat, plenty of food and disease management. It’s deer programs like ours that increase the health and sustainability of the deer — which is key to having big bucks to hunt.

Back to our Davis story. Teenagers are not the most patient or disciplined hunters so it’s a growing stage for sure. It’s been a delight watching Davis grow through these stages where he now hunts alone without his Dad or me on the stand with him.

Recently, he let a really nice trophy buck slip past him while he was on the stand. We know this big buck is hanging out in the section of woods where Davis’s stand is. Over breakfast that morning, I reminded Davis that to hunt this trophy, he would need to spend more time on the stand. Mature bucks are extremely cautious and smart.

It’s about 10 a.m. and Davis is texting me that he is going to get down from his stand. I encouraged him to stay put as the big bucks like to move around noon for some reason. I had just seen a beautiful young 8-point buck and shared this with him hoping to maybe provide some incentive for him to be patient and stick it out. Instead, he gets down and picks me up at my stand as well.

As we are riding back to camp together I share again that if he wants to stay, I will stay out here with him yet I see we are on the way back regardless. About 30 minutes later, a camera in the area of Davis’s stand goes off. Guess what we are looking at? Yes, the big trophy buck sitting up on a ridge about 100 yards from Davis’s stand. I’m watching the blood drain from his face as he is gazing at the picture.

Davis, you have uphill goals for killing a big buck and downhill habits. This is a favorite John Maxwell quote where he says too many of us have uphill goals and downhill habits. We have goals that take discipline, time and hard work but our daily habits do not reflect actions that will get us up that hill to claim that goal.

I use this quote all the time when I know I am not doing what I need to do to reach my goals.

Where’s Davis? He went back out to the stand.

What about you? How do your goals and habits align?

Coming in 2023, my new book Leading with Significance breaks through the limiting barriers of common culture theory and demonstrates, with great transparency, the real human emotions that elevate a culture to one that is genuine, enduring and magnetic. Sign up today for updates at