Reality Check: Lessons from the Pond

I don’t fish. However, I was on a pond recently, fishing. Everybody knows that while there may be moments of actual fish-catching while fishing, there is inevitably plenty of think-time in between those moments.

Here are some of the life lessons that came to me during my time on the pond.

  1. The fish may bite. The fish may not bite. We have no control over the fish, so we may as well just enjoy the experience. Most recognize this about fishing, but it’s helpful for other life experiences, too. For example, stuck in traffic? Not much you can do about that, eh? You may as well enjoy the experience, appreciate the beautiful day, smile and wave at your fellow travelers…as if you were fishing.
  2. If you don’t cast, you won’t get a bite. You have to put something out there; give it a try. The fish will not jump out of the pond and land in your boat any more than your ideal job will jump out of the paper and land on your couch while you are watching TV. If you want something to happen, you need to do your part.
  3. Life isn’t fair. There, I said it. Some people catch more fish, even though you are working just as hard. You can choose to resent their good luck and feel dissatisfied. Or, you can choose to accept that life is not fair and work with it. Your choice won’t matter much to others, but it will make a world of difference for you.
  4. It helps to know what the fish want: bait. But not just any bait. Fishing is more effective if you offer their preferred bait. How does that apply to life? If you want happy, satisfying relationships, it helps to know what people want. How can you know? Ask. Experiment. Evaluate. Observe. What actions result in the relationship that works for both of you?
  5. Find a mentor. You don’t need to figure everything out for yourself. Fishing has been around since at least Biblical times; human relationships have been around even longer. There’s a lot of accumulated knowledge! Use it. Many folks—fishers and others—are delighted to teach and share what they know. Do you know someone, whether it’s professionally or personally, who is successful in a way that you would like to be? Ask them to mentor you. You may be pleasantly surprised by the response.
  6. Success takes persistence. If you give up after the first unsuccessful cast, you go home with nothing. Granted, if you are persistent, you may still go home with nothing. (Remember, life isn’t fair.) But you will definitely lose out if you give up. Whether it’s on the pond, at school, at work, or in your love life, you may not know when you are on the brink of success. If it’s what you want and it matters to you, then stick with it.

Yes, I caught a fish. But the real catch was what I learned at the pond. What have you learned when you’ve had contemplation time?

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