To Fish or To Hunt? An Analogy for Your Goals

I love nothing more at work than to start the day off for my team with a great morning “huddle.” Everyone that is scheduled comes together where we take time to recognize, discuss results and new company initiatives, and I always like to throw in a conversation about development at the end.

I learned early on in my career that it is important to focus your energy on your goals or the problems you’re trying to solve in order to achieve the greatest results. Today I leveraged that mentality as it relates to goals specifically. The timing seemed appropriate due to the end of the year fast approaching and many of us make resolutions on ways to improve.

I came up with an analogy and I totally botched it when explaining it to my team. So, I decided I wanted to try rectify mistake with you all.

I asked the team to imagine two individuals.

The first was the fisherman. My mistake was not appropriately describing this particular fisherman’s method. Imagine a fisherman that goes out into a boat not with a rod and reel, but a net. He goes out into the water, casts his net and begins to row his boat towing the net behind him hoping to catch something to take home.

The second was the hunter. He is equipped with a bow and arrow. He has to tread quietly through the woods, look for evidence of his prey and then ultimately manage to finish things off in a single shot.

While both methods are noble in their own right (meaning they’re hard work and evidence of effort), the point I was trying to make is the level of skill needed to do both is very different. The problem with casting a wide net (in other words focusing on too many things) is that you never know exactly what you’re going to catch. On top of that there’s an element of luck involved because you’re blindly dragging your net around behind you. The hunter, however, practices and builds skill over time. These skills allow him (or her) to have razor like focus and precision on their acquired target. It should be noted that as he perfects his craft, he becomes much more efficient and expends far less energy.

I spend a lot of time talking about this principle because at my company their are many directions in which you can grow your career. We have employees all the time whom apply for everything that becomes available. They simply explain they want to move up and are blindly choosing positions in the hopes they will achieve their ultimate dream. They don’t even have interest in some of the roles to which they are applying. To be truly successful, it is critical to pick a target and to start practicing how to hit it. A fisherman that casts his net might catch something worthwhile but it is it truly what they want to catch?

Believe it or not this has been a struggle for me. I’ve spent a large chunk of a decade trying my hardest to be good at every type of job my companies had to offer – but not focus on the real key to my success, myself. And while that did present some marginal success and has kept my career sustained over the long term, I’ve yet to attain the goals I’ve set for myself. It wasn’t until recently when I decide to focus on myself did both my personal AND professional development that I started to feel like I was making traction. I decided I needed to pull myself out of my comfort zone and try living in a new and completely different city. I started to focus my energy on things that were important to me. I cleaned my house on a very regular basis to make sure I always had a comfortable place to rest. I tried finding and making friends as best I could in my new city. The rewards of all these personal efforts have been exponentially larger than I ever anticipated in my work place.

In a round about way, what I’m trying to say is how are you sharpening your skills to attain your prize? Are you practicing? Are you constantly learning? Are you soliciting feedback? And, most importantly, have you realized that you are not just the hunter. The target in the end is not the job or the goal. The target is the best version of yourself.

Don’t waste time with a net. Practice. Aim. Shoot!



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