Gone Fishin’… Seriously

I love cooking and eating fresh fish. I just never did much fishing. Oh, I used to take my kids fishing in Michigan. Buy them fresh bait, pack sandwiches and load up the skiff for an afternoon of reeling in blue gills.  But truthfully, I was sunbathing more than fishing.

I recently accepted an invitation to go fishing. Serious fishing. I have no idea what I’m doing.

After tormenting myself with a running trailer of anxieties (I fall out of the boat, I hook someone in the face, I cut my hand gutting a fish) I realize I’ve fallen into a trap. I have a habit of worrying about the unknown rather than embracing it. No matter how much experience I have in living what is a happy, fulfilling life, I’m still susceptible to paranoid fantasies about failure–however unfounded.

The good news is that I also catch myself at this game. When I attempt to play the “now fear this” tape, I willfully make it a preview for a comedy–more teasing and mischievous. That way, I can laugh at myself. Then it’s easier to say “yes” to the new.

Isn’t this also true in business? Our fears can make innovation so emotionally painful. When forced to change a process or introduce a new offering, I wonder if it’s better to see it as a  creative fishing trip. The economy has really freaked people out–for good reason. But the blind fear keeps us clinging to things that really don’t work any longer. In a workshop I gave recently, a gentleman said, “I realize the direct mail campaign isn’t working, but I won’t get fired for doing it.” Fear keeps us from trying things that could work better.

For my part, I plan to focus on creating skills that put my imagination to better use. I want a new relationship with my fears. So that even if I feel them gnawing holes in my ambition, I don’t necessarily believe in the visions they try to scare me with. 

The summer solstice is just behind us. We’re halfway through 2010. What are your goals for the next half of the year? Any fishing trips planned?

Original art by Magic Marking