The Importance Of Building Bridges Not Walls

I just purchased a college textbook.   Oh, I know what you’re probably thinking…I’ve reached a mid-life crisis and I am heading back to school this fall.   Nope, nothing could be further from the truth.   The book I bought was not a requirement for some class, instead, I have discovered it to be a requirement for my life.

Let me explain.

Back 30 years ago while attending the University of Minnesota I was a sophomore who thought he knew it all.   I mean, let’s face it, I was at the prime age when NOBODY, and I do mean, well…few people could tell me much in life.   Most adults were, shall we say, out-of-touch.   Most of my professors were too smart for their own good.   Hell, even most of my friends didn’t have a clue quite to the same extent I did.   I knew it all, or at least so I thought.

Then I took this Interpersonal Relations class and had one of those “aha” moments.   You know the ones…when all of a sudden something clicks in your head and life begins to make more sense as things come into focus.   Maybe it was a product of the maturation process, yet I have long concluded it had more to do with a certain very influential book.

Of the 100s of college text books I was forced to purchase over the years only one sticks out in my mind having a value above all others.   The title of the book was “Bridges Not Wall” by John Stewart.   The book was so adept at explaining the process of communication it left an indelible impression in my mind even three decades later.

I remember one of the basic tenets of the book as simply this: The quality of a person’s life is directly proportional to their ability to effectively communicate.   Think about it.   The people who really grasp and understand how to communicate are the same folks who typically succeed in our world.   They know how to ask for what they want.   They have this insane knack for opening doors that most people think are locked up tight.

This ability to communicate plays an important role in our outdoor pursuits, too.   When you can be persuasive more than most you can open up new hunting lands.   Landowners feel comfortable with you and swing open those otherwise closed gates.   You can start a dialogue with a stranger and eventually get them to spill their favorite fishing spots.   Communication used properly is so powerful there really are few limits to where it can take you.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that you go out and purchase this collegiate textbook like I just did.   Rather, I’m encouraging you to just think about how you communicate in life.   If you’re shy, there are ways to overcome it.   If you get nervous, there are techniques to help you cope.   Communication is like a muscle in your body, when you stop using it the skill slowly atrophies away.   Best of all, when you exercise your ability to communicate you can accomplish profound achievements.

Believe it or not, communication evolves with the passage of time.   Back 30 years ago the edition of this book I first used didn’t mention the influence of social media in our lives.   Today, we live in a world bombarded with Facebook, Twitter and similar social media communication influences.

I can’t emphasize enough how the ability to communicate has rewarded me in life.   As a sportsman, you might think the skills necessary to call ducks, turkeys or other game animals is really all you need to be a success.   I contend if you don’t first become proficient at communicating with other humans, you can never possibly achieve your true potential during your precious experiences spent outdoors.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.