Posts Tagged ‘10000 hours’

Lessons Learned

May 26, 2012

Lessons Learned

How Small a Trout Every Day in May Challenge

“One lives and learns, doesn’t one? That is certainly one of the more prevalent delusions
George Bernard Shaw

As an assignment I suppose I could try to list all the things about fishing which I have learned or at least I think that I have learned, but then there would be just as many who disagree. Plus what do any of us know? Fish are ornery critters, given over to mood swings and behaviour patterns that would keep a psychologist busy for a lifetime.

Perhaps the things that I have learned and believe in the most do relate to fishing, because that is pretty much my life, but equally they relate just as well to anyone else and any other pursuit for that matter.

I have learned that you are probably not going to be very good at something you inherently dislike. So your mom or pop might have your career in dental care or merchant banking mapped out for you, hell you may even follow their advice but should you do so, without passion and will, there are really only a few possibilities, you will either be bad at it, unhappy with it or both. Passion is a totally underrated emotion and I have yet to meet a single person successful in their chosen fields who wasn’t passionate about it. If you don’t know what your passion is, best you find out because life can get pretty empty without it.

I also figure that to be good at something, I mean really good at it you have to put in the time. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, suggests that one of the main criteria for attaining extraordinary success in any task is to practise it for ten thousand hours. It strikes me that you are not very likely to spend that amount of time doing something that you don’t like. So practise may make perfect but I do think that you have to have the desire for it to start with.

Equally whilst practise makes perfect it doesn’t help a jot if you practise the wrong thing, which explains why most successful people in a variety of fields have a coach, mentor or a manual to follow and are diligent in their rehearsal. It matters not if you are learning to touch type, fly cast, hit a golf ball, drive a car or become a successful banker I don’t suppose. The wisdom to seek assistance can be a great asset.

But then I don’t know a wholehelluva lot about golf, or merchant banking, what I do know a bit about is fishing and I reckon that I am well up on my ten thousand hours on that front, hopefully more and I figure that I haven’t finished yet. Certainly in fishing, and again I suspect in other fields, not only do you need to have a passion for it and not then simply spend ten thousand hours at it, but that you need to have or develop an enquiring mind. I have met people who have supposedly twenty years of experience at fishing, but actually they have simply experienced the same year twenty times.  There are others who are relative newbies who question everything, explore everything, have independent ideas and tactics and get real good at it real fast. So whilst your mentor, coach or guide adds valuable input and saves time from reinventing the wheel, it is also perfectly OK to disagree with them and try your own stuff too. Any good coach will encourage you to do so, even if they know that it isn’t going to work. If you don’t want to take my word for benefits of free thinking you should watch the latest Brad Pitt movie “Moneyball”.. based on a true story of Billy Beane’s passion and wisdom to avoid going with the crowd.

Further thoughts on the subject are that undoubtedly my father viewed my ten thousand hours of fishing as a complete waste of time, the essence of a misspent youth and a good deal of middle age to boot. Which raises another critical lesson, you cannot over value support. If you are in a position to support or encourage a passion in someone you care about do it. If you don’t, not only are they losing out but so are you.

I have learned that you rarely do exceptionally well at something by following the crowd. I recall a competitive session on Lynn Brenig in the Commonwealth Fishing Championships in Wales. The end of the lake was so far away that to motor there would cut into one’s fishing time. Most boats opted to stay closer to the dock but I was partnered by one of the English B team and I suggested that we head for the far end. “Listen, my thoughts are that if we do something different to everyone else we will either come first or last, what do you think?” He replied “Hell yes let’s go for it” so we did. As it happened we caught a lot of fish , we didn’t come first or last but at least well up for the session and the wisdom of our choice was confirmed when on the next session nearly every other boat headed for the same spot. If you follow the crowd you will come in the middle, it is a lesson well worth remembering.

Currently in my life the jury is still out, I may be coming last but I still have hope and passion that I may come closer to the top. One thing is pretty much assured, I don’t think that it is likely that I am going to land up in the middle; I don’t have the heart for it.