A father and his son went fishing on a small boat, hungry.
The father helped his son reel in his first fish, and it was a beauty. “Great catch, son,” the father said.
“Yes, but I’m worried I’m missing out on better fish,” the son said. “What if I could catch a bigger, tastier fish?” “Maybe you should try,” the father said.
And the son did, catching an even bigger fish an hour later. “A real beaut,” the father said.
“But what if there are better fish out there?” the son asked.
“Maybe you should try,” the father said.
And the son did, catching a bigger fish, and then wondering if there were better fish, catching another, and so on.
At the end of the day, the son was exhausted. The father asked, “How did the fish taste?”
The son hesitated. “I’m not sure. I was so busy looking for better fish that I didn’t taste any of them.”
The father smiled contentedly, patted his belly. “Don’t worry. They were delicious.”
The parable above is from Leo Babauta’s popular blog http://www.zenhabits.com/. I like it because it captures the frenzy we find ourselves in from time to time. Often I find people at all levels so worked up about getting to the next big step they forget to take a moment to digest what they’ve learned. They know there is a bigger fish and they forget to fully appreciate the one they’ve caught. Before one knows it, they end up like the little boy and lose sight of the main objective: to nourish oneself and add value to others. I really do think it is important to move forward and evolve. In fact our purpose in life, I believe, is to be constantly growing and developing ourselves while contributing to others. In fact in the highest order of spiritual thinking, even God is defined as a verb as much as a noun. However taking the time to learn lessons and “feed ourselves” is important to govern the pace of movement. “Fishing,” as a metaphor for our personal evolution, then takes on a somewhat more deliberate context.
- Recognize that we are going to miss some things. I accepted the role as President of Ryzex and two weeks after I started and introduced myself to the company I was asked to do a high profile job that I wanted to do so badly that I was sick about passing on it. However if I had jumped to that “fish,” I might have missed the time at Ryzex where the Character Triangle became a fully developed concept. Accept and be accountable to feed and nourish yourself in the best way possible in your current role.
- The time to move on and to “cast the next line” will become clearer if we are present enough to fully appreciate and absorb what we have in front of us. If our antenna is “up” we will know and use better judgment. When I look back on my career, there were a few times when I got anxious and probably took my eye off what was already on my line. The dot com era was such a time; I think I got so blurred by all the “fish” out there that I didn’t get the most out of the one in my hands. I left the COO job of a company I worked my tail off to transform and jumped to a “can’t miss” start up that of course crashed and burned in the dot com bust. I did learn a lot from that “catch,” trading a trout for a minnow. 🙂 Be opportunistic but act based on what you want, NOT what you’re missing.
Full Fishing in the Triangle,