A couple of months ago, I was honored with the pleasure of listening to my oldest brother tell a story from back when he was five years old. I would’ve been maybe about a year old at the time, which would explain why I never remembered the story, but he remembers it vividly. Once you hear this story, you’ll understand why and you’ll understand what the lessons are in the story.
At five years old, Mike, my oldest brother was with the rest of the family out at our family cabin in Northern Michigan. Mike decided that he was going to take it upon himself to go fishing that day. He climbed a tree, found the straightest branch he could get, and broke it off to use as a fishing pole. He then went out to the shed in the back of the cabin, found some string to use, a safety pin to use as a fishing hook, and dug up worms from the dirt in the back yard.
Once he had all of his equipment together, he went down a couple of cabins from outrs to what we, as kids, always knew as the Brown Dock. You can imagine where that name came from. Of course, the dock was painted brown. The most important thing about the Brown Dock to this story is its size and the shade that it provided from the sun. You could go there on any given day, and there were a ton of fish under this dock. Even as I got older, I remember taking excursions down to this dock just to look at the number of fish.
My brother goes down there with all of his equipment, all on his own, and throws his line into the water. The fishing is so abundant under that dock, that he’s literally pulling them up left and right. He recounted pulling them out one by one and putting them on the dock. At the time, he wasn’t old enough or knowledgeable enough about fishing to have a brought along fishing creel. A fishing creel is what you would know as that little wicker basket that you see fishermen carry on their waist or carry in their boat. Instead, he was just piling the fish up as best as he could on the top of the dock. As you could imagine , as he caught more and more fish, it got to the point where the pile got so big and the fish were active enough that they would flop off the dock and back into the water again.
Mike, being the ingenious young man that he was, stopped fishing for the moment, got resourceful, looked around, and was able to find a what was either a doughnut box or a cake box. You can imagine what that looks like if you’ve ever gotten doughnuts from Krispy Kreme or your local doughnut shop. He got his doughnut box, brought it back over to the dock and puts what fish are left on the dock into the box. Now he’s really got something to keep his fish, and he’s still got more room.
Mike begins fishing once again and the fishing is just as abundant as it was the first time around. And before long, he’s got that box full to the point that now the fish are flopping out of that box onto the dock and back into the water. He realizes that that’s about as far as he really can go for this day. Picks up his box of fish, the tree branch with the line and safety pin for a hook, his box of worms, and heads back to our cabin. He no sooner gets in sight of the cabin when my mom comes out from the cabin smiling from ear to ear. She says to him, “Look at you. You brought me some fish.” You can only imagine the smile and the excitement that my brother had at that moment.
What really brings this story home is that Mike just last year retired from the Missouri Department of Fish and Game with a PhD in Fishery’s Science. I didn’t even know that such a thing existed until he had enrolled in the program some 30 years ago. This guy really found his passion in life and always followed his passion until his retirement. Today, in his retirement, he spends his days hunting and fishing, and doing all of the things that he loves.
The message hidden in this story, if you haven’t figured it out already, is that when you have someone that has massive, massive levels of success in doing any activity and you connect it with somebody like a mentor or a teacher or somebody held at high regard, such as my mom to my five year old brother. And that person celebrates them for that massive amount of success. Helps them to celebrate it as well. That person is bound to be passionate about it for the rest of their life.
What is it in your life that you can do to celebrate the wins that you have had? What are you doing on a day to day basis? As you are touching other people’s lives. As you’re coaching, you’re mentoring, you’re parenting. How can you find those moments of success and celebrate them with that person. Really love on them and help them to find the joy in what they’re doing.