By Ken Hager, COO
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Passion is an intense emotion or a very strong feeling about a person or thing or a positive affinity towards a subject. Anyone who knows me knows I have a passion and consider myself blessed because of it. I have a passion for saltwater fishing that has led to a passion for tournament fishing. In tournament fishing, you are putting yourself up against the best-of-the-best of like-minded individuals with the goal of being one of the best that day. While fishing is typically an individual effort, tournament fishing is a team sport where you rely on all team members to do their jobs and “boat the fish.” I typically tournament fish with the same team of 5–7 guys whom I know I can rely on and who have a similar passion as I do.
We’ve fished a number of tournaments over the years and for many years without much success. I knew we were all good fishermen and didn’t understand the lack of success we were experiencing. We were “weekend warriors,” many times going up against full-time crews, professional mates, and captains with much more time on the water than us. I felt we should be finishing higher or, at the very least, better than other “weekend warriors.” What was it that allowed equally talented people to have greater success than we were having? Was there something they did that we didn’t do, or do as well?
The answer came to me while walking the docks and watching other crew members getting ready for the next day of tournament fishing. These weren’t guys hanging around shooting the breeze or having a beer and telling jokes. They weren’t treating this like another day out on the water. Fishing, after all, isn’t named catching, is what you often hear. These crews were treating tournament fishing like a professional job and attacking the task with a more logical, professional and dedicated manner than we had been doing. Once I recognized this, I immediately started putting this new philosophy to work. Many times, I found that the answer to our lack of success was preparation, preparation, preparation.
We usually checked our equipment at the beginning of the season and made changes when something broke or if we noticed something wrong. Now we started checking our lines for nicks or abrasions immediately upon returning to the dock to see what stress, if any, may have occurred in that day’s fishing. Instead of occasionally checking our drags (the amount of pressure you put on a fish when trying to land it), we checked it daily. We made sure all of our connections and knots were properly tied and all of our baits were undamaged and would “swim” like a bait fish once in the water. Preventative maintenance, addressing issues before they became problems, and identifying our team’s strengths and weaknesses would help us towards that winning goal.
Instead of spending five minutes each day looking at the charts, water temps and currents, we would spend a few days tracking the water currents, movements and temperature changes. We quickly realized that if we saw something at “x” position today that looked favorable, later that day or the next it would most likely have moved to “y” or “z” position. In other words, we started to pay more attention to the details and preparations that would lead us to the outcome we desired. We worked together as a team to do the tedious tasks as well as the exciting part of having a nice fish strike our line and having the real battle begin.
We find that this is true in our everyday jobs as well. Most people are in their chosen profession because it was something they held an interest in, that they enjoyed doing. Over time, many lose sight of the reason they chose their careers and may become disenchanted. You can coast along and do well, perhaps even getting somewhat ahead and moving up the corporate ladder. But once you rediscover or allow passion and preparation to enter the picture, you will find much more reward and enjoyment in even the dullest aspects of your job.