The excited raised voices in the cockpit of The Great Gab-Sea communicate that one crew member has a fish on his line. From my view atop the flybridge, I can see Justin and the rod he is holding bent over the side of the boat. Our young angler is holding on for dear life. First mate Ben quickly moves to Justin’s aid and extends his arm in support of the rod while Justin works on cranking the reel. The vibrating up and down action of the rod tip indicates that the fish is likely a red snapper. And a big one for sure.
This is Justin’s first venture at catching red snapper, and he is the youngest and smallest person in our eight-person crew. When it comes to catching big red snapper, the early part of the fight usually determines who will win that contest. Getting some line reeled in is essential in winning that battle. Justin cranks away in between the runs made by this large fish. The first 30 seconds of the contest is critical. We are only seconds into this fight. And the youngest person on board is the one connected to this fish.
Back at the dock, as I look back at this battle and what happened, I am reminded of the title of my first book and the title of a chapter in it. There are no small moments. That description was chosen because it represents an experience when I received an opportunity to save a life. No small moment for the individual who was saved, nor for the effect on the rest of my life.
What may appear as a small moment, may be anything other than small. We may miss out on a life-changing opportunity by living our life thinking that everything is routine. We often underestimate the value of each moment.
But we can also misjudge other areas as well. Like our own abilities. Our personal worth or value. Our influence on others. It is my firm belief that we always underestimate, by a large degree, what we can accomplish.
We may be young in experiences. Brand new. The world may not recognize our abilities. Those who describe us may use words like small, fragile, young or inexperienced. That which we represent to the world may be underappreciated. And sadly, the evaluation of oursleves may leave out much of what we are.
Our effort is going to determine much of our success. Not our physical size. Not our bank account. Not our family background. Not our environment. Not how some may describe us. All of these elements matter and may help us in our journey towards success. But the final decision maker, the one element that is often underappreciated, the core success principle for life, is effort. What we may lack in other elements, often described in successful individuals we admire, may be made up through effort.
“I see color!” shouts Ben, a typical statement on an offshore battle announcing the first sighting of the fish. I peer into the water and immediately recognize a huge red snapper. On the first swing of the gaff hook, Ben misses the fish. I have an uneasy feeling as I watch the final seconds of this battle. I have lost big fish before so close to the boat and in plain sight. I hope this is not one of those times. A second swipe and still no fish. I have a really bad feeling. Gaffing a big fish is not easy. Despite Justin’s great effort, this fish may be lost. With the rocking of the boat due to rough seas and a fish that is still moving, any more misses may be the end. I understand disappointment but am not ready to embrace it today. Yes, I have been here before. That sinking feeling.
The explosive excitement of the crew announces that the third swipe is successful. Raising his arms, Ben brings this huge fish on board. Back at home port, we will measure this monster at 33 inches. Commercial captains, who earn their living at the helm of fishing boats, would describe this as a great fish on any day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. And, it is caught by the smallest, youngest person on board. Justin made the effort and is rewarded for his determined effort.
How often do we underestimate our ability to succeed? To win in a battle that is important to us. Do we ever give up, in the final moments of a battle? Perhaps we make one last swing at the prize, like Ben with that gaff, and give up when the prize is so close. Maybe, even a second swing is all we can muster.
Effort is the enduring success principle of life. Justin needed help and accepted it. Successful people always look to a team for support and help. But Justin never quit making the effort. And without his effort, even a great team would not have been enough. It was tough to keep reeling when the fish kept taking out line that had already been reeled in.
We can lose hope when we take one step forward and then go two steps backward. Just like that fish, when reeled in five feet of line only to see six feet taken back out. Disappointing. Discouraging. Challenging. A moment when it may be easier to give up. Have you been here before? Have you ever given up in the middle of a battle? When the challenge is the strongest? When your effort does not seem like enough.
There are no small moments in life. There should be no small effort.
‘I studied all night long and did not make a good grade on the test.’
‘I spent extra hours on this project and the goal seems further away.’
‘I did my best work and I am no closer to the prize.’
‘I tried to help my friend and he does not seem to want my help.’
‘After doing all the doctor told me to do, my health still seems challenged.’
‘After all I went through, the cancer is back.’
‘I applied for the new job and no one called me back.’
‘I tried really hard but so far it seems like I have failed.’
What should I do? Should I give up? Not according to Justin. A few more cranks might be all that is needed.
Effort is the great success principle in life.
Back at camp, the conversations about the big fish fills the air. I love these conversations. But the best moment for me is the one that seals forever this memory. The moment I snapped the picture of Justin and his 33-inch snapper. The smile on Justin’s face is obvious. Pure joy. But, underneath it, I see something else far more important. A life-long success principle.