“Fish on!” I yelled from the back of the boat as I saw the fishing line pulled taut into the ocean.
I had just finished moaning to my husband that we should call it a day and head back to shore. After hours of motoring around the Atlantic scouting for fish, but not catching any, I had grown impatient. The sun was blazing, and I was tired of rigging fishing rods.
For a novice like me, there were a lot of rules for this sport that seemed to add up to a whole lot of nothing. Don’t let the lines cross. Look for weed lines. Search for birds. Don’t drive the boat too fast. Don’t go so slow. It was a lot of hard work for little reward, and I was frustrated.
But when that fish hit my line, I shot out of my seat like I had a jet pack strapped to my back. I stood staring at the rod that was nestled tightly in the rod holder but whose line was being pulled to the bottom of the ocean with tremendous force.
“What do I do?” I yelled to my husband. My big moment had finally arrived. But the downward force of the rod intimidated me and left me questioning what to do next.
I watched my husband bring in the other lines as my stomach churned anxiously. Then he grabbed my waist and spun me around so that my back was to him. He strapped a fishing belt around my hips that would help me hold the rod steady as I reeled in the fish.
“Pick it up!” He yelled as he gently nudged me toward the rod.
As I lifted the rod, I lurched forward. I could feel the fish swerving and pulling downward.
My husband continued to coach me as my sweaty palms grasped the rod. “Easy,” his voice softened into calm, patient tone. “Go easy. Hold on. Wear the fish out. Don’t let the fish wear you out.”
All of my muscles fired up as excitement flooded through my body.
“Reel down. Pull up,” my husband repeated again and again. And with each rhythmic mantra from his lips, I tipped the nose of my rod toward the choppy ocean as I cranked the reel and then lifted the rod back up. Little by little, the line grew shorter and my prize grew closer.
The fish fiercely resisted its capture, almost pulling me overboard several times. My husband grabbed me around the waist and kept me planted until the fish got closer to the surface. After 20 minutes, the fish came out of the water and my husband reached out and gaffed it.
Exhausted but exhilarated, I cracked open a beer and kissed my husband. Reeling in a 30 pound fish was rewarding, but what set my heart afire was that I didn’t quit. I didn’t hand over the rod. I stayed the course and fought until the end.
Later that evening, I got to thinking about how fishing is a lot like life. You prepare and wait for acceptable conditions to go after your goal. You acquire the correct tools and hone your skills. And when you think the moment is right, you rig your lines and throw them in, hoping to catch the big one.
Now you’ve put it all out there. Whatever it is. Your new store. Your new book. Your new website. Your resume. You put everything you have into the big, blue ocean, hoping to catch the big one.
And then…you wait.
Sometimes you’re patient. Sometimes you’re not. You start getting frustrated, wondering if anything is every going to hit your line. You start to tweak this and hone that. You change your teasers. You bring in your lines and change your bait. You clean the weeds off the line and say a little prayer as you throw everything you have back into the choppy ocean.
And then suddenly, after all that work and all that waiting, something bites. Your big break is like that fishing rod being pulled taut into the deep blue ocean. What do you do now? You pick up the rod, somewhat reluctantly because you can’t believe that after all this time, your dream may actually come true.
Then you do what any good fisherman would do. You calm down, you get your wits about you, and you get back to work. Reel down. Pull up. And just like that, you systematically and rhythmically reel in success.
Sometimes, a hard fought battle may try to pull you overboard. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have someone there to pull you back to safety. Which just makes it all the sweeter when you finally reel in the big one. Because someone who loves you is there to witness your glory.
Catching the big one is a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work. So fish on my friends. Fish on.