Gone Shrimping

I grew up in the urban Northeast.  In the thirty years I have been in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, I have had a few laughs about my cluelessness with the things a "boy growing up in these parts" would have experienced in life so far.  One of these things is learning to throw a cast net to catch shrimp.

A week or so ago, having no idea how to perform this stunt and reluctant to discuss those inadequacies with my Southern born and bred peers, I studied the logic behind cast nets and how they work.  I researched what makes a good cast net, watched several videos on technique, and pursued other facts.  I determined the best places to throw, when to throw, and what to do when I catch something.  I then bought a net and over the last week, practiced a little.  Then yesterday, three little girls in tow, I went to a nearby tidal creek, threw the net, and realized more work was necessary.

This is probably an amusing anecdote for most of you, as it is for me.  My daughters thought the whole thing was hilarious; first, the other day as they revealed my plan to my wife (who is herself Southern born and bred and had a good laugh, I'm sure).  Then, yesterday, when my bucket fell into the water and I lost an hour's worth of casting when both of the shrimp fled for their lives.  

So later in the afternoon, while buying shrimp from the fresh local seafood guy, I was actually smiling as I recounted my efforts, knowing that I still had some work to do.  But in reflecting on the lesson, I realized that I had gained an extraordinary experience, one that maybe a lot of people will never face.  Furthermore, I had something to share with you all.

Finding I had something I wanted, I decided to do something about it.  I figured out the challenge and did something about it.  Now, in the wake of my relative success, I also understand that further analysis is necessary, the process needs to be refined, and the improvements implemented to see if they result in success.

I know officers who, when they have a problem on their watch, say, "I have a problem" and expect others to solve it for them.  It isn't an issue of not knowing how to solve it.  It is an issue of not trying to learn.  I didn't know how to throw a cast net, so I took some initiative and learned about it.  I asked questions.  I created a hypothesis, tried it, and upon failure I did not throw up my hands and whine about it, I decided to look at what I did wrong and made adjustments.

I am not there yet.  I may even end up a miserable failure as a cast net fisherman.  I may, however, realize my goal and be able to get shrimp out of a tidal creek instead of out of an ice bin at the supermarket.  I choose to remain positive about it, even as my family snickers behind my back (they love me and understand me, so I'm okay with it).  Hopefully, however, I am showing them a life lesson in that I didn't wish change to occur, I made it happen.

As the saying goes, "You can hand a man a fish and he can eat for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he can eat for a lifetime".  Real leaders don't wait for someone to teach them; they seek opportunities and grab them.  They hold opportunities like a shiny object and examine them, marvel over them, understand them, manipulate them, and seek to solve them. As I see it, if you do the homework and figure out everything about fishing, you can teach it to others as well, and grow from the experience. 

In the meanwhile, however, we are going to enjoy our shrimp dinner.

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