Boys love their toys. Laying out my fly boxes, under the guise of “organizing”, I flash back to moments in my childhood. I would look through GI Joe Toys, Baseball Cards, Comic Books, or other things that kept my attention for a period. I loved those moments of taking inventory of my toys almost as much as playing with them in the way they were intended. Part of the enjoyment of these moments was how my imagination would wander through different possibilities of the future of the items. I imagined secret missions with the characters, like I was a general developing the strategy and tactics of a black ops team or a general manager building a team to win the world series. I could save the world or be the sports hero, or the man who helped make the hero. The fun in using my imagination and creating different worlds of possibility was a fun escape and way to stay occupied when I was by myself. Thinking of strategy and tactics was fun.
Now that I have spent a good bit of time in the past five years fly fishing, most things I research are strategies and tactics to improve your angling abilities. Gets me every time. I want to collect all the books, listen to all the podcasts, and watch all the YouTube videos. My favorite book about fly fishing is Tactical Fly Fishing by Devin Olsen, a wonderful resource. There is more information available than I could ever possibly consume. At work, there are marketing efforts, capture plans, and business development strategies. Again, I get sucked in. Thinking of the possibility is captivating. Imagining winning the job and catching the biggest fish through all these tactics. Those wins would be the best!
I have caught a few pretty large fish and I’ve won some nice projects and contracts. The memories, photos, and awards are satisfying, but the feelings are fleeting. What brings me back to the river each time I fish? It is not the tactics or the strategies. A Tactic is an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end. A Strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. These are methods. They are not enough to bring me back.
British Tennis Player Fred Perry said,” Tactic, fitness, …ability, adaptability, experience, and sportsmanship are all necessary for winning.” There are lots of elements that contribute to success and continued enjoyment of any occupation, hobby, or activity. When I think about my next fishing session, I think about my enjoyment of being on the river, tranquility I feel in solitude, the support of the community, and how I look forward to learning. Those elements have built a passion for me in fly fishing. When I think about how I grow in fly fishing it is about the time I spend on the river and my commitment to spending that time. Tour De France winner, Greg LeMond stated, “Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring the experience is a matter of time.”
The passion and commitment I bring to my work and fly fishing is from the way I feel on the river, behind the vise, evaluating and designing water quality features, and in conversations or reading about water quality and fishing. These are the reasons why I work and why I fish, these are parts of my purpose in addition to being a father and husband. I feel good about who I am when these are part of my life.
With all the focus we can put towards tactics and strategies, please don’t let your purpose get foggy. When we know our purpose and can hold onto it, we will commit our time and our energy to complete the strategy and tactics. My purpose is to continually learn and grow in appreciating and improving our environment and to attempt to leave the world a better place. This keeps me coming back to the river. What will keep you coming back to commit your time to a cause?
“Don’t be obsessed with tactics, but with purpose. Tactics have a half-life.” Noam Chomsky, American Philosopher.