Building leaders is what I will be doing this week. Lots and lots of them. Leaders of fluorocarbon complete with floats, beads, swivels, and circle hooks. Fishing leaders!
My family and I will be visiting our favorite vacation spot, St. George Island, Florida. Direct subscribers to the blog received this post in their inbox at 7:15 a.m. Monday morning. About that time, I will be watching the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico with my fishing poles sitting in the rod holders waiting for the first fish to bite!
In light of this, I intend to somehow translate my experience as a beach fisherman to leadership in this week’s post! Enjoy a lighter hearted post this week with a touch of silliness. Here are five quick leadership lessons found in beach fishing, while on vacation:
Routines and Rhythms
I am a creature of habit. The alarm goes off at 3:30 a.m., I wake Shannon and the kids, and we hop in the truck. I drive for five and a half hours, they sleep. My preference is to drive during the night when less people are on the road. We typically pull in as the sun comes up. It feels like we get a whole extra day at the beach.
Then I stop by the same bait store, grab some coffee from Bayside Coffee Company, get some breakfast, and head to the State Park. At the park, we hit the beach. I unpack my backpack full of my fishing arsenal, assemble my rods, and start to build my fishing leaders for the week. Then I fish.
As leaders, chaos and crisis can impede our efforts to stick to our routines and develop rhythms. The ability to develop these consistencies in an inconsistent world can save our sanity in moments of disruption. Just like a good athlete working on their fundamentals over and over, it develops muscle memory that takes over in chaos and crisis.
After I fish a while, I will transition to my second favorite past time, napping! If napping was an Olympic sport, go ahead and put me on the podium! I can crash right there on the beach, face down on a towel. The 3:30 a.m. alarm in combination with the long drive catches up with me and I am out like a light.
Most of you can probably relate. It is difficult for me to relax immediately upon arrival to vacation. It takes me a good half day to let go, relax, and unwind.
In leadership, our drive for success can keep us moving at a grueling pace. Taking time to unwind is something we tend to put on the backburner, but oh so rewarding when we are intentional about creating space for ourselves. Mine is fishing at the beach, what is yours?
One time I was scrolling through a social media page for the Island. There was a person who posted a picture of four fishing rods set up in the surf. They asked the question, “How many fishing poles are necessary to catch fish?” As a public servant, I do not partake in the comment section of social media posts. The urge is there, but discipline leads me to sit on the sidelines.
What little impulsivity I have in me really wanted to answer the question for them this way, “Easy…if you are not catching fish…not enough, if you are catching fish…not enough.” For a moment I drifted off into imagining the potential overreaction by the critic and the chuckle I would get out of it. I didn’t post that, but it would have been awesome!
Critics are everywhere, even at the beach. These are the people that always have something negative to say, a better way of doing things, and are just plain exhausting to be around. Dealing with critics is a necessary function of any leadership position. I am grateful this week that all I have to do is pop my AirPods in, play some good music, and have too many fishing poles in the water! Never let critics distract you from the mission at hand!
Success vs Significance
My success this week will be determined by the number of fish that I catch. There are many factors that play into this such as: water temperature, wind direction, tides, moon phase, and barometric pressure. Each morning I set out to catch “the big one.” The one worthy of posting pictures on social media, sending to my buddies, and celebrating what me, myself, and I have accomplished.
A few years ago, I read a book called Halftime written by Bob Buford. A friend of mine had put me on it. At the time, I was in my late thirties, about the same age as when he wrote the book. In the book, he shares how all of us have a “halftime” in life. Just like a team goes into the locker room at half time and adjusts their gameplan, we transition the purpose of our lives from success to significance. It’s not about the accolades or the awards anymore. Your leadership transitions into focusing on bettering others and the world that you live in. That is significance.
My success this week will be in my significance. I intend to create memories with my family that will outlast me. Catching fish with Grant, being the embarrassing dad to Ashtyn (high schooler that is too cool for ol’ dad), and chilling on the beach with Shannon (Check out a previous post, The Bridge for more thoughts on how to vacation well as a leader). I desire significance.
I Am Not That Important
Early in my career I would obsess and worry about what could happen while I was on vacation. Wisdom and maturity have made me face a stark reality. The reality that…I am not that important! As leaders, we can get caught in the trap of believing that we are so critically important to this world that it can’t go on without us. History tells us different! The world continues to forge on, with or without us.
One of my favorite books of all time is Patrick Lencioni’s Ideal Team Player. In the book, he shares that ideal team players are three things: humble, hungry, and smart. He says that humble may be the most important of them all. C.S. Lewis said that, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” There is no more humbling realization than to understand you are simply…not that important. Great leaders understand this and are in constant process of building leaders and organizations that can carry on without them.
We do not lead well when our low battery notification is going off. We must plug into the source of whatever recharges us. A leader absent of energy is like a plug without electricity. It is really not that useful.
Vacation also creates space for relaxation and reflection. My reflection tends to lead to gratitude. The process of vacationing increases my gratitude for my family who is with me, but also our capable team who will carry us forward though the week. I rest well knowing I am surrounded by some of the most talented people I know. My gratitude is overflowing for the opportunity to serve a community I love so dearly. Acworth, Georgia is a special place! Until next week…