Lessons In Determination

For the past few days, I’ve been offline and spending time on the Conejos River in Southern Colorado. The water was perfect, the weather magnificent and exactly what the doctor ordered for destressing. It’s been a challenging few months. I had no idea how much everything has weighed on me until I stepped into the river.


The stress dripped off with every ripple of passing wave and with every cast from my fly rod.

This is no surprise, the mountains always seem to be my ideal reset. Not sure why I haven’t figured out to make these trips more than just an annual or every other year occurrence.

Fly Fishing

This trip I was determined to catch some big trout.

I’ve always known the Conejos River has always had some pretty big trout, but I’ve never managed to meet one. Aside from the occasional dinky trout, I could never count on much success. It had never really bothered me as being on the river has always my happy place regardless of how many fish I caught.

However this time, I was determined to figure this fly fishing thing out. I studied different fishing reports ahead of the trip. Secured the proper flies. Looked at the hatch schedule closely and was certain I’d find success.

Believe it or not, I did. Almost instantly. I hooked some genuine hogs. Fish I had only dreamed of.

The problem – every single one broke me off. Snapped my line straight off or managed to finagle my fly off the line – due to poor ties by yours truly.

Although I was frustrated I remained determined.

Don’t Be Afraid To Admit Defeat

After watching some Youtube videos and reading some more documentation, I went out the next day ready to battle again. Same results. This time, found a channel and had four consecutive strikes. Every single one either went under a rock, or broke off my line. I splashed to shore and told my wife I was heading to the fly shop for more flies and some advice.

Technically I had already been to the fly shop earlier in the week. The owner, an obtuse man, reluctantly sold me some flies that “should work” and proceeded to tell me that dry flies on top were a waste of time. “The big fish are down below,” which I found humorous because I was finding strikes on both my dry flie and the nymph that trailed down below the surface. I was polite and listened to his advice and even agreed to give his setup a try. That afternoon I tied on his setup and had no strikes whatsoever. So I figured he was full of it.

However on my second trip to the fly shop I decided to enlist his help. I told him what has happening and even shared I had tried his setup with no results. When I switched back to dry fly on top with a trailer I was getting results but I wasn’t landing. After those last four lost trout, I was ready to admit defeat.

When The Student Is Ready The Master Will Appear

He patiently listened to the days events and could tell I was frustrated. Then he asked me to show him how I was tying on my flies. I showed him the technique that my brother had shown me years earlier. A technique I had used on many fly fishing trips and caught many fish, but nothing of any real size. He saw what I was doing and casually said, “Your brother probably doesn’t catch many fish that way and if he does, nothing of size.”

So I asked, “Can you show me what I’m doing wrong?”

Like in business and life, if things are going your way and there’s someone you know who’s been in the same boat as you but they still float, you ask what they did to survive.

He spent a good 30 minutes with me talking technique and even changing out my fly lead altogether. He patiently showed me the way he ties his flies on the line and shared some good advice. “A bad knot tied well is better than a good knot tied poorly. If how you’ve tied the fly doesn’t past muster, start over.”

It was funny, but I’ve often used the same philosophy in writing, developing my keynote presentations and developing training. If it’s decent but it’s not awesome in my eyes, how could I ever expect it to be awesome in anyone else’s eyes. There are no shortcuts to success and in business and in life. This Master affirmed something I already knew but had never considered when it came to fly fishing.

Then he did something I didn’t expect but advice I have given a thousand times to my coaching clients. “Just relax. If you are too tense, you won’t be ready when the time comes to set the hook.”


Well, as they say the rest is history. I caught two monster fish on our final day on the water. 10x the size of any trout I had ever caught in my life. I was patient. Remained determined and focused.

And boy did it pay off!

Photo Credit: Zachary Harper

Lessons Learned

I learned some valuable lessons that both you and I can apply to any personal or business situation:

  1. Never be afraid to ask for help from people who have knowledge to help you. The old man has caught way more fish than I ever will. So he has knowledge I need so I asked for it.
  2. Be willing to change. Just because what you’ve done worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work again in the future. Stay adaptable and you just may land a bigger fish 🐠!
  3. When you hit a wall and find yourself frustrated, take a step back. Review the advice you’ve been given and ask yourself if you are truly putting those ideas and strategies to work for you or are you falling back on to old habits.
  4. Change your bait. The old man told me what worked  for bigger fish and even showed me how to tie my flies to land them. I gave up on his advice too early and only when I went back and changed my flies to what he suggested did I find success.
  5. Be patient and relax your time will come if you let it. Despite my circumstances, I looked up and took in the beauty that I found myself in. I found peace. Then I found success.
  6. When you have a strike, set the hook. When an opportunity presents itself, it won’t be there for long. You have to lock on to it with both hands and be willing to fight to land it. I was giving up too easily and when I changed my approach and set the hook, I landed a few nice big ones.

I’m Ready For A Different Kind of Fishing

As I head back to Austin, I feel refreshed, relaxed and accomplished. I know much of what I’ve learned this week I can put to work in my companies. I can’t wait to set these feet in a different river of opportunity and cast my line and see what I can bring into the net.

Ripple On!!!

ICYMI: What Are You Learning During Quarantine

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