Hey Ya’ll, it’s the ARM Dude here. I just got back from a trip to the coast where I got to spend some quality time catching redfish in the shallow flats. My favorite place to go fishing is a little town called Port O’Connor, TX. It is not a tourist destination because there is very little to do there other than fish. In fact, a favorite past time for the local residents is to venture up to the boat docks late in the day to watch the boats come in for the day. Part of the entertainment is to watch some of the humorous things that happen when the boats are being loaded onto their trailers. The other reason they go is to see the fish brought in by each boat. The locals have a saying that “90% of the fish brought in are caught by 10% of the fishermen.”

As an avid fisherman I have spent literally hundreds of days on the water during my lifetime. As a kid, I believed that luck played a huge role in fishing. This view began to change as I got older and had more fishing experience. It really changed for me when I began trying to determine why 10% of the fishermen were catching most all of the fish. I would walk around the docks in the morning looking to see what type of boat each person had, the equipment they were using, and the tackle being used. I even paid attention to the clothes they were wearing. This lesson taught me that it was virtually impossible to determine the successful fishermen by their looks or the equipment they used. Everyone looked pretty much the same. Yet I knew that later on in the day when the boats came back in that most of them would have little to show for their efforts. This set me off on the next phase of my study to determine why the same guys were catching all of the fish.

While I had already began drawing many parallels between my business career and my fishing experiences it really didn’t sink in until I developed a friendship with a co-worker that also loved to fish. Through this friendship I got exposure to a couple of guys that were very successful at catching fish on a consistent basis. I also got exposure to a lot of people that couldn’t seem to catch a fish if their life depended on it. This is when I finally learned the secret behind the 90/10 rule. What was the secret? Commitment. That’s right, I had spent all of this time trying to determine the secret behind their success and it came down to one word. The weird thing was that I had also been studying various people that I have met during my business career trying to determine why some were more successful than others. What was their secret? Commitment. This is when the parallels between work and play became clearer for me. Some of the observations that led to this conclusion are as follows.

The less successful fishermen knew very little about their prey other than it lived in the water. This lack of knowledge made it impossible for them to recognize the difference between a good keeper fish and a bad time wasting one that should be avoided or thrown back if caught. They didn’t know much about the tackle they were using. They would get frustrated easily as time passed without them catching anything. They were constantly changing lures and baits before blindly casting their lines out. They were very quick to give up when conditions were less than ideal. They also begin to doubt their luck when they saw others catching fish in the same area using similar tackle. These traits are very similar to ones that I have found in some of the less successful people that I worked with during my career. They want to be successful but they are counting on luck or others to make it happen.

The successful fishermen spent more time preparing at home then they did fishing on the water. They were constantly studying the traits of the various fish they were targeting. They spent the time required to learn how to get the maximum return from their investments in equipment and tackle. They studied the weather and tide patterns. They reviewed past fishing trips to see what they could learn from those experiences. They would then take all of this information to map out their strategy for their next trip. The focus of this preparation was to increase their odds of catching fish by maximizing the use of their time on the water. This level of commitment resulted in a strong belief in their ability to catch fish. This belief system was critical because it provided the discipline needed to stick with their strategy even when the fishing was going slow. They believed that all the preparation was going to pay off for them as long as they didn’t give up. These are traits that I believe most successful individuals, regardless of their trade, possess. They are so committed to being successful that they are going to put in the extra effort to insure that their ability to do so is not left to chance.

This leads me to my closing question. Which would you rather do, fish or catch?