The Catch

gjshuj_qb2s-alan-bishopIt’s December and the thing I’ve done at the end of every year with my children since they were little, is head up to our northern beaches for a week.  There’s a particular spot right on the water in Noosa that is a true slice of paradise.  We swim right off the jetty, take boats up the river, watch sunsets, build sand castles and fish.  Well, we try to fish.

The truth is, we really suck at fishing.  We’ve never caught anything- ever.  And it’s not that the spot is useless either, we see people pull in fish and crabs all the time.  It’s usually fathers and sons; or old leathery guys that look like they could cut fishing line with their teeth.   The pros.   So, ok… we may not look the part, but we came prepared.  My father had bought new rods for all.  We were armed with the best lures on the market.  That’s what the packet said.

The lines were cast and our confidence was high.  And then five days later, it wasn’t.  We had seen kids catch fish all around us, we had changed the amazing lures, the size of our hooks, where we were casting… and still nothing.

Suddenly, it was the last night before we returned home.  I had put all the younger kids to bed and then went to say goodnight to my eldest.  Of all the boys, he had been the most desperate to catch his first fish.  I was tired and had so much packing to do, but seeing him so quietly disappointed, I decided that we wouldn’t go down without a fight.  I reached down to the floor and handed him his shoes; we were going to back out on the jetty for one last shot.

As we sat there shivering and chatting through the cool night, staring out into the seemingly lifeless water, I was reminded of two things:

Firstly – my son is a great kid and I should spend more time with him on our own.

Secondly – the unknown sucks.

We tried to imagine what might be going on in the darkness beneath us.  Were fish about to bite?  Were we casting just a few metres in the wrong spot?  Perhaps all the fish were further, or closer?  Perhaps there were none.

It’s been a strange week in my business.  People I believed were supportive, turned out not to be.  People I had expected little from, surprised me by coming through with a nice catch.  I spoke to my son about the parallels between going after a fish and going after anything in life.  I drew analogies from a very neat little formula that I came across in an Anthony Robbins book that I’ve been reading:

  1. Be clear about what you want
  2. Launch massive action towards getting it
  3. Review what is and isn’t working
  4. Make adjustments
  5. Repeat cycle until you get there

This deceptively simple approach is something I can apply whether I’m chasing a business target, or a health goal or the relationship of my dreams.  We talked about how it might be relevant for my son and his goals as we stood on the end of the pier pulling in seaweed and sticks.

Man, I really wanted Jack to catch a fish.  Not only because it would have been a fantastic demo of the principle we were discussing, or a great story for this blog, or because I wanted so badly to go to bed….  I just wanted my boy to catch a fish because he deserved it.  But life has nothing to do with being owed and sometimes you need to call it a day.  It was nearly midnight when we packed up, empty handed and headed back up to our unit.

We stopped outside the door and I turned to him to say that I was sorry we hadn’t caught our first fish.  He turned to me with a grin and the best attitude I’ve ever seen, and added one word to my statement:


We haven’t caught our first fish yet, mum.

And there it was, the 6th and most important point in any recipe for chasing down a goal: move through steps 1-5 like you believe it’s going to happen.  Maybe not tonight, maybe not exactly how you wanted.  But walk with the certainty that eventually you’ll have your prize.  It’s only a matter of time.

We are looking for new places to fish.  Even though I already went home with an incredible catch.

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