Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chasing Jumping Fish

I'm at the beach enjoying a quasi-rest with a good friend of mine. We were having a discussion about investing, among other things, and how it is important to pick a strategy, implement it, and then give it time to work without constant tinkering or redirecting.

He gave a fantastic analogy of the futility of constantly shifting directions. He talked about how, as a younger man, when he would go fishing on a lake he would see a fish jump and move his boat to that area, believing 'that's where the fish were.' As he would sit in his new spot he would see a fish jump in another area and he would move his boat again to the new 'hot spot.' This process would continue, usually without catching any fish, until his fishing time was through.

Instead of simply picking a spot and waiting for some fish to come along, he was chasing that 'apparent' fishy spots one after another. Each time he'd move his boat, he would most likely be disturbing the fish in that area, causing them to go somewhere else. The lure of the visible, jumping fish was somewhat of an illusion, but it was an intoxicating and compelling illusion!

This is so true in life. We have to give our strategies time to work before we pull the plug. Sure, it is important to look for signs of redirection, but we must also realize that most things don't happen instantly. It takes time to know if something is going to work... be it a job, a relationship, a recipe or an investing approach. If we mixed up the ingredients for a loaf of bread, but didn't give it time to rise before baking, we would not get the result we hoped.

We have to sit still in one place to catch a fish. We need to let our bread dough rise before we bake it. Constantly flitting around from approach to approach will not usually yield a good result.

Patience and time. That's what most endeavors require.

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