Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Farnsworth's First Law of Life, Leadership and Fishermen


Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.
Find a man who loves to fish and he will feed the whole village for a lifetime.
I learned this principle from watching my good friend Gary Norton back in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Among his numerous talents, Gary loves to fish. It really doesn’t matter when, where, or what kind of fish or fishing – Gary is there with passion.
Gary taught me how to fish for bream in small ponds, so I could take my young children fishing and not disappoint them. Gary showed me and a bunch of Boy Scouts how to catch sea trout and red fish off an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. He took me bass fishing where I observed how the competitive “big boy” fishermen do it with fast boats and fancy rigs.
Gary shared with me the finer points of trotline fishing in the Mississippi River for the monster catfish that live in its deep and muddy waters. You haven’t lived until you’ve wrestled a 50-pound catfish into a very small boat on a very large river. Talk about adrenaline rush!
I took him to the mountain streams of Colorado, away from his native fishing habitats, thinking an entirely new kind of fishing might slow him down a bit. Not so. After half a day he was out-fishing those who grew up in the area. He just has a nose for fish.
Long before the days of Facebook, Gary had a large circle of friends. If you were in that fortunate number, you could count on a steady supply of Ziplocs filled with fresh fillets. Like a gardener with a green thumb, he produced far more than he could eat and needed to share his abundance. He kept our freezer stocked for years.
This principle of finding a man who loves to fish applies to you if you’re trying to build a world-class business, a championship team, or an exceptional volunteer organization. Be on the lookout for people with passion in your field and when you find them, hire them. You can teach skills and processes but you can not teach passion. Without passion, world class is out of the question.
This principle applies to your existing team. You likely already have passionate people working for you. Make sure they are in the right slot, and search constantly for ways to allow their passion to energize their work and your organization. Eliminate barriers to creativity and honor exceptional contributions.
This principle also applies to you personally if you’re trying to create a world-class life for yourself or a world-class world for all of us. Do what you love and love what you do. Find your passion and nurture it, and the rest will follow. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman
Whether it’s fishing or photography or fighting cancer, find your passion and purpose and let that bring you alive. Breathe in all the possibilities and then find a way to make it happen. You need it, your village needs it, and the world needs it.
Gary Norton
Scott fishing with his friend Gary and his brother Lane.

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