Category: Don’s Blog

Tips for Fishing and Living #8

Tip #8

“It is not a fish until it is on the bank.” Irish Proverb

This one seems pretty obvious: when you go fishing it doesn’t count as an actual caught fish until you have actually caught it. This is so self-evident, but we make this kind of error in our lives all the time. It’s one thing to anticipate getting something done or having a particular thing in our possession, but it is not the same as having it. For this to happen we need to plan, as well as, execute our plan. We then must continue to act and even alter the action or actions to more effectively obtain the goal. We need a vision, and we need action.

Did you know that if a young person, say, a 20 year-old, were to save $100 each week for ten years, and then simply left that money in an interest earning account, without adding any more money to it, by the time this person turns 65 years old the money, the initial $52,000, will have grown to be one million dollars. Most things are not rocket science, nor are they about “get-rich-quick” schemes. What is true is that the road to greatness begins with powerful and bold dreams, complimented by continuous action or actions. Mere idle dreams, alone, do not bring about powerful and bold results. Actions, carried out consistently and with precision, sometimes with even mundane and laborious relentlessness, and sustained with a dogged underpinning vision, is what will always carry the day. Incremental actions taken over a sustained period of time can and will produce results. There’s a very old joke as to how one can get to Carnegie Hall. The punch line: Practice, Practice, Practice!

The point is what it does take is discipline, and often some refinement and adjustments along the way, to produce excellent results. What I love about baseball is that a great batting average is in the 300’s. This will get you into the major leagues. What this really means is that the batter strikes out, fouls out, or gets grounded out, 7 out of 10 times, while making it to base 3 out of 7.  To do this required lots of rigorous training and skill development. In real life we want to “hit the ball” each and every single time, and do it from the start. We want perfection; and we want it instantly.

There was study that had married couples rate their happiness – their self-assessment of happiness – early on in their marriage. Ten years later, these same couples were asked to rate their happiness of their relationship currently. Those that initially rated their marriage as “unhappy” or “very unhappy” and remained together, over 70% of these couples later rated their marriage as being “satisfying” or “very satisfying.” This was with or without any counseling or external assistance. You might say, Hanging in there turned out to be valuable. One can also suspect these couples had obtained some sort of growth curve over those 10 years, as well as, gleamed some wisdom via the work they put into being individuals and married people that served them regarding marital happiness.


Not to end on a negative note, but there is the old adage: “The road to hell is paved with good intention.”  So here’s a suggestion: Go catch a fish. Catch as many as you wish. And enjoy.

Tips for Fishing and Living # 7

Tip #7

There is certainly something in fishing that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit, a pure serenity of mind.” Washington Irving.

When Michael Jordan was on the court playing for the Chicago Bulls his presence brought the entire teams level of play up to another level. Some would call it mystical, or magical. This is what all great people do, as well, for others. They don’t set out to do this; rather it is a natural result of their own spirit’s power. This presence they exude I speak of can be called self-differentiation and it is inherent in all great leaders. This kind of leader is able to express himself or herself with the least amount of blaming, and the someone who has the greatest capacity to take responsibility for his or her own emotional being and destiny. They are people who are capable of, and often do, give their own “I have dream” speech. They are not autocratic; rather they tell where they stand and what they will and will not do. They say what they believe. And if necessary, are willing to go it alone. They are also people that persist in the face of resistance and sabotage.

It is also folly to think of such leaders as the ones others need to see as a role models, or that they should or can be copied. You cannot clone self-differentiation. It has nothing to do with whatever skills or technique a leader may possess. An anxious person could have the same skills and then anxiously misuse or distort these very skills with devastating results. Presence is also the capacity to differ with another while still remaining connected. These are calm people; they are able to not react quickly or become defensive. They are sometimes confused as being “cold” or “callous” or “unfeeling.” Usually such remarks are made by highly emotional and reactive people.

In order for one to become truly great at one’s life pursuits, there is a required evolving and growing – an inner transformation – of one’s soul that makes the person, not only better at their work, but a better person, in general.  Unlike what too often passes for heroes these days is instead mere celebrity. NBA basketball superstars that pull guns on each other, golfers who have mistresses seemingly everywhere, baseball sluggers that use steroids, senators and governors that lie and serve only the wealthy, are not people living with any kind of gentleness of spirit. In spite of what is trendy these days, such people are actually failures. They are huge disappointments to themselves, and to the rest of us.   

It is difficult to describe gentleness of spirit or pure serenity of mind, but when you are with someone with such qualities, it is obvious. It is monumentally huge and it is noteworthy. It is also contagious.

Tips for Fishing and Living # 6

Tip # 6

“Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout.” Irish proverb

A certain women’s college basketball coach has tried to explain that she does more than take gifted and extremely talented athletes into her program. This coach gets these gifted and extremely talented players to play ball with the certainty that must ultimately come from within. When one is able to do so, such a player brings the level of their play up into legionary states, not only for themselves, but also for each and every member of the team. When the scouts go about recruiting players they look for this capacity; this something extra; let’s call it a confidence and vision within the prospective player. You cannot teach this; but great coaches can cultivate it. The truth is all people have this capacity in some aspects. It’s just too often ignored or shunted. Some might think of this confidence and vision as conceitedness or about being boastful. This way of thinking is part of the problem. It helps to foster a general “holding back” of greatness. Actually it is a form of modest. Michael Jordan knew he was a great basketball player. It would have been false modesty for him to suggest he was just “so-so.”

So much of living a life is utilizing a combination of both skill and art. Mastery comes when one initially is willing to put in the long, hard work to develop certain skills to a high level. Staying with this basketball metaphor we all know of some of the truly great ones of various teams, and of how these master players were the ones that came early to practices, and then stayed late, to improve a jump shot, or bring up his or her foul line shooting. These players demanded nothing but the very best from themselves. Once they had a discipline for building and improving their skill set, then the art of playing came about. When this student of basketball or whatever career or life endeavor that one is pursuing, learns the basics really well, and even has a method to keep on top of them, they must also learn to put all that technique he or she has learned behind, and then at game time, let er’ rip!

Perhaps it all boils down to trusting one’s inner voice, or to listen to our core instincts and intuition. Most of us fail miserably at this. Instead we shunt it out. We close ourselves off from that part of us that truly “knows” what course of action to take. Instead we give full rein to all the voices that tear us down or talk us out of our dreams. I call these inner voices vultures that soar and bombard us with all the negativity and fear-based notions. Usually we hear of these thoughts as being reasonable or logical.  Listening to the river is more than about catching trout. It is all about having a most amazing life. We are called to be unreasonable. Living an extraordinary life is what were created for. The life that everyone is entitled to is available, if only they shut off the noise screaming inside, and listen to “the river.”

Tips for Fishing and Living # 5

Tip # 5:

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.” 

Henry David Thoreau

When one engages in that which one loves, time stands still, or you can say “life is timeless.” Finding one’s purpose in life is essential to becoming  a joyful, as well as, fulfilled person. Each person was born for a purpose – a vocation – a calling. Generally speaking this purpose is aligned with becoming happy. When one discovers this calling, life ceases to be burdensome. For the most part, life turns into bliss, regardless of whatever obstacles or trials, or so-called difficulties one encounters. But here’s the real secret: This purpose – this calling – is whatever we say it is. There is no cosmic slate that has written on it your particular purpose. And so we don’t have to flounder or struggle all of our life searching, wondering and fretting as to what it exactly is we are supposed to be doing. There are clues. These clues are all over the place. They can and do lead us to the right place. We have to be open to seeing these clues. To start, we can ask ourselves, What is it that brings me joy? to reflect on, and then see where this line of thinking takes you. We are each born into a life, into a family, and a setting of both history and location, that sets us up with all sorts of obstacles, as well as, avenues. The avenues are sweet; but so can the obstacles be sweet – although most of the time we don’t see them that way. Not that we would ask for them, but the obstacles, and avenues, can provide us with potentially a clear direction. Consider a person born into a family where a sibling has mental retardation or some significant disability. It isn’t at all surprising to find this person, years later, in special education  with a deep passion for helping people with special needs. We see countless cases of people getting their direction – their purpose – from circumstances of their earlier life. There is wisdom in the notion about finding what you love, and finding a way to get paid for this. “Love what you do; do what you live.”


Tips for Fishing and Living #4

“A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.”

Arnold Gingrich

Years ago, I started a morning ritual where when I first wake up, and before I get out of bed, and prior to putting my feet on the floor, I remain in bed and place a shit-eating grin on my face. I beam a full-faced smile as I think about how gifted I am to have made it through the night and to have awakened into a brand new day! I am alive. I am here. I have this new day in which to live. I am a live and this is a miracle! It’s not a fake smile either. It is a heart-felt smile; one that has the physiological effect on my entire body that ripples into a wonderful and positive sensation. Not a bad way to start the day.

Too often we live day-to-day in a ho-hum existence. Even when something good occurs we take it as a “oh well, another miracle,” without really taking it in as the powerful force it truly is. It’s as if only we haven’t the vision to see it. The truth is, miracle abound. Beauty abounds often while remaining hidden from most do not know this is so, or if they do, how to look for it.  It is pretty easy to be miserable. This is simple. One can get on a bandwagon to let events of our day flood our head with one misery after another. But to be happy takes some discipline. It also takes a bit of skill. One sometimes needs to have the skills detective – to become a sleuth who is ever vigilant for the clues that our universe is an ever-occurring creation.  If you know what you are looking for you have a much great chance of finding it. Awareness has magic. As your awareness grows it brings about greater energy. That is a beautiful thing.