The NET

“One thing about championship teams is that they’re resilient. No matter what is thrown at them, no matter how deep the hole, they find a way to bounce back and overcome adversity”. Nick Saban

Zzzzzz . . . The distinctive sound of a singing drag, coupled with a severely bent rod, indicate a good-sized fish is on the end of Steve’s line.  He is my cousin-in-law, accompanying me on an inshore fishing trip along coastal Alabama in Orange Beach.  “That’s a nice fish!” I exclaim. Even though I started fishing at age seven and have caught my share of these giants, I still get excited at such a site.

As the fish thrashes closer, I instinctively grab for the net, indeed, quite a familiar task. Pandemonium! The net is not in the normal holder. Frantically, I immediately survey the rest of the boat for the instrument that is a must for the size fish in combat with Steve. Time is critical.  Still no net!!

Unfortunately, I have (embarrassingly) been here before. It makes absolutely no sense for someone who loves fishing like I do, fishing as often as I do, on my own boat . . . with no net.  (I agree).  But, right now, there is no net.

Past experience serves in thrusting me into emergency mode, and quickly I find a five-gallon bucket (also an inventory ‘must’ in a fishing odyssey) to substitute for the net. I tell Steve that I will lower the bucket into the water at the right angle as he guides the fish into the opening. ‘What?!? Are you kidding me?!’ The puzzled look on his face indicates complete lack of confidence in this maneuver. (And, with the fish longer than the length of the bucket, he has every reason to be concerned).

A little apprehensive about the outcome, I accept the burden of knowing this is a good-size fish and no one likes for the ‘big one to get away.’ As Steve guides the fish toward the slightly submerged container, I position myself for this acrobatic feat.  As soon as the fish’s nose enters the bucket, in one single swoop I gather a now water-weighted bucket, complete with the large fish, and plunk onto the deck of the boat.  Bam!  Unbelievable!  The sound of a flopping fish – the reward for an industrious effort!

Although a little stunned, my fishing partner is smiling, obviously wondering exactly what just happened! So, I quickly assure him, ‘Oh, no big dealsomething I have successfully performed before.’ In fact, my very first attempt at such a ‘clever stunt’ involved holding a rod n reel while giving instructions to our daughter, Kim, 10 years old at the time, on how to land a fish without a net.   The container for this first trial run was a crab pot that I had forgotten to take out of the boat.  A nice redfish was the prize that day.

Am I lucky? Perhaps – but, this is not my ‘first rodeo.’ I have a history of landing fish in unique ways. One memorable episode involved a journey to Lake Concordia in Louisiana, fishing with longtime friend Sammy Wilder. That was the trip when I invented the ‘towel net.’ While catching bream, a small pan fish that does not require a net, we started hooking large catfish – on bream bait! Using very light equipment!  The catfish were a pleasant surprise, but the ‘towel net’ was even a bigger one.  “You have done this before, haven’t you?” Sammy surmises.  “Too many times,” I chuckle in complete honesty. I then describe the origin of my ‘bucket net’ operation.  If there exists a contest in Alabama for landing large fish in unique ways, I would surely be the State champion.

While I have achieved the status as the ‘real thing’ in finding a way to boat a fish without a net, family and friends would gleefully point out all the fish I have lost over the years. (But, they are not writing this article, are they)?

What can be learned from these fishing stories?  Is it about better organization?  If so, the fix is simple and easy. Create a memory tool.  Using a simple 3 x 5 notecard, it takes only a few minutes to create a checklist of fishing and boating essentials, placed in a designated spot on your vessel. How about using your Smartphone (a device that is always with you) to capture the information? What is your idea? While I always aim for better organization, there is something else far more powerful than creating memory tools. I have used this ingredient throughout my adult life. And, it has been a huge difference-maker . . .

It’s part of my DNA – the essence of my core.  An ingredient I wake up with every single day. This is the inherent element on which we relied many years ago during a treacherous time that could have shattered our transportation company – when the only difference between survival and failure was this one ingredient.  You may have guessed it by now: Success is a winning attitude.  What you believe matters.

In all of these related stories, when I first realized the absence of a net, I did not immediately become discouraged. Instead, after first comprehending the problem, my next thoughts were on how we were going to be successful. My primary thought process was, ‘I can do this! I can get this fish into the boat.’

In life, stuff happens. You may not like the cards you were dealt.  Your own failure may be the cause for why something has occurred. What will you do? The temptation may be to complain or become discouraged – to give up, to accept defeat. Long-term, you can create permanent solutions – like better organization.  But what matters most in the moment is what you do in the moment. How are you going to play the cards you have been dealt? Is this not the important question we should consider?

Even if I solve my ‘net problem,’ or whatever issue that happens repeatedly, I may still forget something else in the future. It’s just life. A new task or challenge that needs a solution may arise.  Even if we are organized, many others are not. And because we live our lives surrounded by others who may be disorganized, things will happen.  In the heat of the battle, when things go wrong, what are you going to do?

There is one powerful ingredient always available to you. It does not require a checklist, Smartphone or memory tool.

What are you landing today?

How about a winning attitude?

One More Thing . . .

Rob is the author of the four-step process for creating a winning attitude in life:

  1. Face the facts – (I have no net)
  2. Be positive – (I will figure this out)
  3. Be confident – (I can do this – I will use a bucket [or towel])
  4. Be grateful – Thanks! The fish are in the boat.

For more details on steps 2, 3 & 4, see a Winning Attitude

And one more thing . . .

The 3 by 5 card