Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lessons From The Fishermen

"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I've been working on being more patient for the past seven years. This change in attitude started when I chose to leave my last job and start my current business. As a serial entrepreneur, this wasn't my first time around the block as a business owner. Though I began with an idea of what I'd do this time around, time and a desire to follow my passion, morphed that idea into something else. However, getting there was a process. It was, and continues to be, an exercise in patience.

We can learn a lot from fishermen. They take a line with bait on it and cast the line into a sea, lake or other body of water. To be effective, they must use their knowledge of:
  • What the water has to offer (type of fish)
  • When it is most likely to offer it
  • What type of bait will be most interesting to their target fish
  • What will most likely entice the fish to take the bait
  • How to reel in the catch

With this knowledge, the fishermen cast a baited line into a large body of water and wait. They sit quietly and patiently with hope and belief of eventual success in attracting their target fish. Impatience is not a word associated with fishermen. It is understood, there are days when he may catch nothing and days when he will be rewarded with a bounty. Despite the uncertainty, each outing, he returns to the water with hope.

It's about patience, and to some extenet, relinquishing control. Though they can't see or control what lies beneath the surface, their faith in eventual success is unshaken. So, they adjust the type of bait, the location of their line casting or the time of day during which they fish. Then again, with faith, they wait.

I've read that impatience is a lack of faith. Too often we give up when our reward is at hand, because we can't see how or when it will come. As a friend once told me, "You are planting seeds. They will sprout in their time, not yours." Once you plant seeds (marketing efforts, prospecting, presentations, article writing, advertising, etc.), it doesn't matter how often you go out into the garden and tell them to grow. They will sprout when the conditions are right. Some seeds will never sprout. Your job is to plant them, nurture them (fertilizing, watering, etc.) and wait. And so it is in life. Choose the right bait, location and time for the type of fish you'd like to catch. Cast your lines into the water. Then, you wait with patience and faith. Don't give up. Don't give in.

How many times have you given up on a goal, an idea, a project or a person due to impatience or an inability to see the fruits of your labor (in what you thought was an acceptable timeframe)? What have you been or are you currently impatient about? Is it possible you gave up too soon? Is it possible to revisit that project, idea or relationship and give it more time, effort or energy?

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant."

Robert Louis Stevenson

Kennette Reed