Tips for Fishing and Living # 77


Tip #77:

“I look into … my fly box, and think about all the elements I should consider in choosing the perfect fly: water temperature, what stage of development the bugs are in, what the fish are eating right now. Then I remember what a guide told me: ‘Ninety percent of what a trout eats is brown and fuzzy and about five-eighths of an inch long.'”                   

        “Love the Man, Love the Fly Rod”, A Different Angle: Fly Fishing Stories by Women, Allison Moir

There are so many times that what we decide isn’t at all very critical or terribly important. What color to paint the kitchen walls, the kind of clothes we buy, how to have your eggs for breakfast, and so on – the list is endless.

There is an interesting fact that we typically spend roughly 20% of our energy in an effort to get 80% of all the possible information needed to make any given decision; while we’ll then spend 80% of our energy and time finding that final 20% of information. For most decisions we need to make in life we do not need that additional 20% of information. Such a pursuit turns out often to be mostly a stalling tactic, or a way of delaying the decision.

Decisions can be categorized into four quadrants:

  • Important and urgent
  • Important and non-urgent
  • Unimportant and urgent
  • Unimportant and non-urgent

Urgent and Important ought to be where we spend our efforts. If we put the same amount of energy into trying to resolve things from all four of these quadrants we will severely bog ourselves down. 

We’ve all heard the expression: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” While this notion has its place I do not I see it as some absolute. There are also times when it is critically important to do things well. But there are also times for doing things poorly or less-then-well. I pay much more attention to doing our income tax returns than I do with cutting our lawn.

If we are ever going to take on doing something new – unfamiliar – it is quite likely we won’t do it well the first go at it. We’ll get better as we practice doing these things. Sure we can hedge our bet by studying and doing certain things to be prepared, but eventually we’re just going to have to go do this new thing. That’s why people train, take on apprenticeships, and get on-the-job-training or coaching/mentoring. We must be willing to make mistakes, to do things at first badly, and to benefit from such beginnings by learning from our experiences.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “Practice, practice, practice.”

Again, perfection is not necessary or even desirable for a whole lot of daily living. Perfection – or perfectionism – isn’t a desirable goal. Perfectionism is a trait that makes life an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. When healthy, it can be self-motivating and drive you to overcome adversity and achieve success. When unhealthy, it can be a fast and enduring track to unhappiness.

I am all for continuous improvement, but perfectionism for the sake of perfection can be fatal.  A little bit of perfectionism is a good thing – it makes us want to achieve things, double-check our work, and sometimes it motivates us to be more efficient and better organized. Carpenters will tell you, “measure twice; cut once.”

Having unrealistic expectations about the self can contribute to increased feelings of anxiety, dissatisfaction, and difficulty coping with symptoms. Perfectionism is usually the result of trying to live up to an internal ideal, but it can also be motivated by fear, such as worrying about how others perceive you. It is sometimes the result of trauma.

Unhealthy Perfectionism is increasingly considered to be a risk factor for suicide. The tendency of extreme perfectionists place overly high expectations of self and are unreasonably self-critical when their efforts do not meet the expectations they have established. When this is combined with their tendency to present a public image of flawlessness increases their risk of suicide ideation.  These individuals are also less likely to seek help when it is needed.

If you are dealing with a perfectionist here are some ways to help you loosen her up:

  • Let her know it is okay to make mistakes. “That’s why pencils have erasers.”
  • Set an example. Make sure you are not sending a mixed message. 
  • Praise effort, not grades. 
  • Round out his world. 
  • Empathize with his feelings.
  • Hold the criticism.
  • Point out the potential learning that often comes from our shortcomings.

Counter-Cultural Author and Journalist Hunter Thompson has been credited with the quote “half of life is just showing up.”  Later actor/director Woody Allen stated that “Showing up is eighty percent of life.” I’m not certain I know where either one was going with these ideas, but perhaps they are pointing out that our follow through counts for the additional 20%.

Allow me to end these ramblings by leaving this final thought by Thornton Wilder, in his play, The Skin of Our Teeth: 

                 “I didn’t marry you because you were perfect.  

                 I didn’t even marry because I love you.                

                 I married you because you gave me a promise.

                That promise made up for your faults.

               And the promise I gave made up for mine.

               Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage.

              And when our children were growing up,

              it wasn’t the house that protected them.

            And it wasn’t our love that protected them;

            It was that promise.”

I like the notion that, “The road to heaven is heaven.” We ought to enjoy the process; enjoy the journey we’re and strive and work hard while at the same time be unattached to the results. It is in our trying and our desire to do good that matters. Regardless of what happens we usually get to try again. Not only that, but we get to bring the learning from our previous attempts to assist us in possibly making a better gain.

We are imperfect people. I know I am. I like to think I am also in good company.