“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years,”–Mark Twain
I’ve been thinking a lot about my father who died four years ago. I missed him last week on Fathers Day. During my early manhood years when I was trying to make my own mark I didn’t fully appreciate him. As I’ve experienced more setbacks in life I’ve realized it isn’t easy being a leader at work and home. The older I get the wiser he gets.
Eldon owned and operated a small grocery store for over 35 years. He was a tireless worker and a savvy small business owner. He often worked seven days a week and in the early years he worked two jobs to provide for his family and grow his business. Much of what I know about business and customer service I learned from him.
My father was kind and generous to those in need. He allowed lower income families and widows to buy groceries on credit when they needed a break. I absorbed a lot of wisdom by observing his life. Many times in unexpected ways.
The importance of rythm and balance in a man’s life was emphasized at the men’s gathering that I recently attended. To my surprise play was described as an integral part of living in rhytm. Without play a man has a greater chance of burnout and bitterness. I was convicted that I had allowed the responsibilities of home and work to crowd play out of my life. To give us an opportunity to play the leaders took us out fly fishing for several hours on the streams in Estes Park, Colorado.
Play, which can be described as anything we do merely for the joy of it rather than for any practical purpose, is a focus for me this year.
Despite the many hours my father worked he knew how to play. He was an avid fisherman. His grocery business was very public so he enjoyed getting away alone with his pole and lures. It never was about the number or size of the fish, it was about making time to play. Wise move dad.
This article originally posted by Michael Hyatt helps me to understand his wisdom and provides me an example to follow once again.
I recently went fly fishing on the Bighorn River in Montana. I was lucky to go with several other guys. Some were old friends, others I had just met. We had guides to help us, and we spent hours and hours on the water every day. It was fun, restorative, even magical.
Some of my favorite moments in nature have been on the water with a rod and reel. I wouldn’t call myself a rugged outdoorsman. I just love being outside, testing my luck, and hooking my lunch. It might sound like a humble time, but there’s hardly anything better.
I’ll be the first to admit it’s not for everyone. But I’ve found even people who come to it late in life love fishing more than most any other hobby. Why? There are a least nine reasons most of us—leaders, entrepreneurs, really anyone—need more fishing in our lives.
- It gives you a chance to really detach from your work. A friend of mine has a cabin in the Colorado Rockies. I’ve had the privilege of vacationing there several times. Gail and I almost totally unplug when we’re there. And one of the thing that lets me disconnect is stepping out back and throwing a line in the lake. I get lost in the experience, and work feels a million miles away.
- It enables you to shift your focus to the present. The thing about fishing is that you’re doing something—but not much. I first heard that from my friend, John Kramp, and I smile every time I remember it. Whether it’s stringing a hook or casting a line, fishing can draw your mind away from past and future and bring you fully into the present.
- It enables you to reconnect with your heart. When we’re anxious or consumed with work, it’s hard to attend to our hearts. At least that’s true for me. But once I get fully present, I start hearing my heart again. Solomon’s advice at the end of Ecclesiastes is that we remember God. For me that’s always easier when I’m fishing.
- It enables you to reconnect with your childhood. When I was younger my dad would take my little brother and me to the lake to catch crappie and bass. A couple of years ago, I took my dad trout fishing along with one of my sons in law and my grandson. The four of us fished for hours and had a great time. It was like reliving part of my childhood. But the fun thing for me is that fishing always helps me reconnect with those years.
- It enables quality time with your buddies. One thing I love best about golf is time outside with my friends. But sometimes golf goes too easily to business, and then it’s another kind of outing. The same thing can happen with fishing, but once we’re detached from work and more connected to our hearts, I find we usually talk about the things that matter most.
- It gives you time to think. What if you’re not with your friends? If you need to get time to think, there’s almost no better place than while fishing. It can be a powerful time for reflection and meditation. When I’m alone by a stream, my mind and body relax, and I’m free to connect ideas, follow random trains of thought, and dream.
- It provides an opportunity to put things into perspective. Part of what comes with all that think-time is perspective. When we’re in the thick of life—rushing deadlines, finalizing products, closing sales—it’s easy to lose perspective. But when we’re finally off the treadmill, it’s easy to reconnect with the big picture.
- It provides a different set of challenges. We need to be challenged, but if we’re always challenged by the same thing—like work—it can wear us down and burn us out. The great thing about fishing is that it calls on other skills and demands something entirely different from us. We get the satisfaction of rising to the occasion without flexing the same set of muscles.
- It provides a singular focal point. Reason No. 9 just sums up the first eight. As Arthur Boers would say, fishing is a focal activity. It “centers, balances, focuses, and orients one’s life.” If you’re feeling distracted, lost, or disconnected from your purpose, fishing is a simple way to get back on track.
I’m not saying fishing will solve all your problems. But it’ll sure take care of a bunch. We already know about the tremendous benefits of being out in nature. Fishing magnifies the experience and the benefits.