Regular readers of this blog already know I hate to fish. Sorry, I just do. My father tried to use fishing as a paternal bonding experience (one, I might add, from which our relationship never quite recovered). I would rather have had my intestines pulled out through my nose than get in a little rowboat and fish. There’s an earlier blog going through all of this in great detail and you can read it if you want. I’m done talking about it here. It makes my stomach hurt. Let’s get back to business.
My dad’s favorite bait was live crickets. We used to carry in the boat a metal mesh jar swarming with live black crickets. The jar had a big opening in the top, but the crickets weren’t smart enough to use the opening to escape. They would sit there in the jar with a giant exit hole right above them and never jump out. When we wanted one, we just reached into the yawning hole and pulled one out.
Turns out crickets aren’t very bright, which I suspect is how an entire species ends up with its highest and best use being fish food.
Before you could fish you had to stick your hand in the jar of swarming crickets, pluck one out, and then run the hook from the back of its head all the way through its torso, exiting at the end of the cricket where most other things exited the cricket. It was charming.
I had nothing against crickets, yet we recreated by skewering them to feed to fish. At one point I asked my father why we had to start with live crickets if all we were going to do was execute them with a hook. I don’t recall ever getting a satisfactory answer.
So what does this barbaric little ritual have to do with business?
You see, occasionally a cricket would wriggle from my hands whilst I was trying (not too enthusiastically) to put him on the hook. When that happened, almost by instinct, I would begin clamoring around the boat trying to recapture him. It wasn’t that I cared at all about getting him on the hook, I just didn’t want him hopping up in my ear or up my shorts.
“What in the hell are you doing,” my father would growl as I tried to trap the runaway. “If we run out of crickets then you can chase that one. Just get another from the jar and start fishing.”
At the time I just thought my dad was being a jerk. Decades later, I realize that my father was simply trying to be efficient. If you have an entire jar of crickets that you can access immediately, why waste time chasing one lucky runaway around the boat? He wanted me to get my line into the water faster so we could catch more fish.
Ever find yourself working on a low priority task instead of finishing the big projects? Ever waste time with busy work when you could be making a difference? Do you run and run and run to mark little items off your to-do list without really thinking about the big picture?
You cricket chaser, you.
Business is tough. Hang in. If we can help you, just let us know.
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Jeff Whittle founded and launched Whittle & Partners in 2011. Before that, Jeff practiced law in Dallas for 15 years and has an additional 20 years of executive business experience. He has run businesses ranging from startups to 300-employee operations.