What isn’t working anymore?
Bass fishing taught me something today about business.
This morning, I was up at 5:45am to wet a line with my longtime friend John Reed. We have been fishing together for nearly twenty years. The simplicity of standing in a boat and casting toward a bank still appeals to me.
The first fish I caught on a ridiculous worm nearly as long as the ambitious bass that tried to eat it.
The worm was the purple of ripe plums. It sparkled.
I’ve got to hand it to Z-Man Fishing Products for creating plastic baits that look like radioactive parasites from another solar system. I think they must have recruited Willy Wonka to help with the color palettes.
Be that as it may, thirty minutes and several missed hooksets later, I had to admit that the plum eel wasn’t doing the job anymore.
Or maybe my first catch was a fluke?
I changed lures four or fives times in the morning and again in the afternoon.
My biggest largemouth of the day came right before we called it quits at 4pm. Four perfect pounds of green, copper, and gold with a pattern of black diamonds down each side. Its round white belly spoke of frequent meals of bluegill and shad; maybe the odd frog or duckling.
Apparently, my little predator couldn’t resist my “Christmas ornament.”
That’s what John’s father-in-law, Nathan, who fished with us in the afternoon, called my doohickey: a clear bead on top of a black egg weight on top of a red hook and a loden-colored worm with green glitter.
Please don’t misunderstand.
I’m not some elite bass fisherman who catches trophies when everyone else gets skunked.
My one spinning rod is falling apart due to age and neglect. The reel sounds like it has sand, not reel oil, in the bearings.
Only this year did I commit to fishing more often because I enjoy it. In the past I busied myself with clients and played the part of Mr. Responsible.
I stopped doing things I enjoy — like fishing — even though I am self-employed and make my own schedule.
Let me repeat… I make my own schedule, and I didn’t carve out time for things I enjoy. (Is that not the dumbest thing you have ever heard?)
I’m not always the sharpest knife in the drawer. Otherwise, this thought wouldn’t have been an epiphany: Not doing things I enjoy isn’t making my life better.
Early successes can make us too careful.
Fishing is really about learning from a series of misses and mistakes, and today, I remembered a lesson I want to pass on.
Our early successes in business can block our later successes.
Whether or not we can flow from one success to the next depends on experimentation, trial-and-error.
Stick to what seems like a “sure bet” — a purple worm that only fooled a single bass — and you may miss out on a multitude of opportunities.
You must stop doing what isn’t working anymore.
Keeping performing new experiments. Try new marketing tactics. Do something the old-fashioned way. Do something else the new-fangled way.
Find the next technique or growth strategy that works, knowing that no matter how hot it is at first, it will eventually cool down.
As strange as it is to say, my failures haven’t stunted my growth. Failures are usually good teachers.
What has made me slow and short-sighted is early successes. That upward trajectory flattens into a plateau.
Most failures won’t kill your business. Being slow to adapt to changes will.
It seems obvious: When you haven’t caught a fish in an hour, try a new bait.
Apply that principle to your business.
What in your business do you need to change?
What isn’t working anymore?
Have any early successes flattened into plateaus?
You may catch your biggest fish at the end of the day. But you must assume that fish are always biting and that you simply haven’t tied on the right lure.
Are you as successful as you want to be?
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