The morning air lends its icy touch to my skin as I prepare my tacklebox and fishing rod in anticipation of a long one-on-one with nature and my own thoughts. This has become a ritual for me that I built during a time where I struggled with motivation. The simple act of fishing has undergone an evolution of meaning in my life and taught me lessons which I now apply to almost all aspects of it. In this case I will discuss its relevance to the context of work ethic.
When I first began taking interest in the hobby, I would only go fishing in the afternoon, being too lazy to wake up any earlier to cast my line. I would go through the motions of finding a secluded spot, casting my line, and hoping for the best. This reflected my work ethic at the time. I would show up to work, go through the motions, and do the bare minimum to get by. Success nor fish are attained through doing what is expected.
The first step in yielding meaningful results is taking an honest look at yourself and answering the following: Am I doing all I can to reach my goal? If the answer is yes then you must persist in your efforts, but if the answer is no then you must reevaluate your work ethic.
In regards to fishing, I wasn’t catch anything short of foliage and the occasional small cod. I determined that if I were to catch more fish I needed to reevaluate my approach. I began waking up at the crack of dawn to make sure that I would arrive at my spot during the typical feeding time for the fish. The water was chilled by the morning fog and it took me a few tries to follow through with my plan, but it was worth it.
Our workplace ethic runs parallel to this example in many ways. When we show up to work, low on energy and unmotivated, we don’t utilize our full potential. It starts with wanting to be better, making a viable game plan, and following through regardless of the results.
The dynamics of fishing in a river has always interested me. To effectively fish in a river, you must wade out into the water, being wary of slippery rocks and aquatic life that may pose a threat to your safety. The greater the risk the greater the reward. Becoming more strategic about time and location doubled my success in catching the ever-elusive stocked river bass.
“Patience is a virtue” is not just an old saying that people say condescendingly to one another, it is a true statement that requires attention and recognition to truly master. While sitting on a rock in the middle of a river and wondering if the fish just don’t like your bait or if the sun beating down on your skin will make that mole that you’ve been ignoring for the past few years into a medical issue are all viable thoughts, they are ultimately distractions that get in the way of your goal.
Our work ethic is often bogged down by the idea that there are outside forces that affect the outcome of our work. While this is not uncommon, it is important to discern the difference between a constructive critique and an “anchor of ethics.” An “anchor of ethics” can be defined as a self-manufactured obstacle that you lay before yourself that hinders you from reaching your full potential. Questions like “Can this issue be solved?”, “Is this relevant to me reaching my goal?”, and “Can addressing this issue help or hinder me?” are all anchors of ethic because they often slow or stop us from following through with our plans for success. This doesn’t mean that thinking your methods through is a bad thing. The problem arises when we create unwarranted obstructions that leave us in a stagnant condition, unable to act. Asking these questions should be part of our post-evaluation, not our initial test. Being weighed down by self-deprecation and doubt can only hurt the process of growth. With the right amount of patience, we can become fully aware of our condition and the results of our approaches before deciding whether or not we should try a different strategy.
Patience is a device that allows the user to observe the results of one’s effort before giving up. Fishing requires patience. Watching your line for a tug or pull and judging whether your plan is a winner or requires more work demands the use of this device. It’s important to follow through and see the results before you decide if a change is necessary.
The point of patience is to allow you the trial run that we all need to see if our initial effort is enough to take us over the obstacles before us. We often kill our motivation or confidence before we even make a dry-run. This is counterproductive and stops us from reaching our goals. Patience brings us a more detailed understanding of the situation at hand and can even surprise us with an unexpected outcome.
The experience of fishing has changed more than just my leisurely schedule. It has changed how I approach new situations and tasks in my everyday life, professionally and otherwise. Applying work ethic to the things we like to do to can allow us to change our perspective. Allow yourself to question your own intent, motivation, and effort to truly gain an accurate feel for whether you’re giving it your all or not. Don’t cut yourself short before you allow yourself the proper amount of trial and error. Killing the method before implementation is only appropriate if your self-critique is constructive, not regressive.
Wake up in the morning with the aspiration to do more than you anticipated. Become an example to others that inspires them to do their best and rethink their priorities. Being honest and transparent with yourself can lead you down a path of improvement and success.