I spent a lovely weekend at a family cottage where one night for dinner I enjoyed a fresh bass caught right off the dock. It was delicious!

During the meal, my daughter (who is 8) and I had a brief conversation about the said fish. The conversation went like this:

Daughter: “Daddy, I feel bad for the fish. One minute it was swimming and now we are eating it”

Me: “Don’t feel bad, it’s the fishes own fault that we are eating it”

And then I proceeded to take an exaggerated bite of said fish. MMM MMM delicious!

My daughter sat at the table perplexed. I could tell this was going to be a teachable moment and I was ready. Here is what I explained to my daughter about the fish.

FishWhen a fish is hooked and reeled in, it is because the fish fought the resistance of the fishing line. A fish will try to dislodge the hook by swimming in the opposite direction of the boat, but in fact what the fish has actually done is firmly secured the hook further into its mouth. Now it becomes even scarier for the fish, so it swims harder and faster against the resistance. By expelling so much energy and effort fighting the resistance (and deepening the hook) the fish becomes weak, discouraged and eventually gives up. Thus, ultimately leading to its evitable future on my dinner plate.

However, not all fish get caught. Why you ask? It is because these fish do not resist the tension of the line. In fact, these fish do the unthinkable and swim towards the resistance, directly into the danger zone. By going toward the tension the fish creates slack in the line conserving energy and easily dislodging the hook. Freedom. Happiness. Joy. The fish swims away smiling leaving the fisherman frustrated, and my dinner plate empty.

The teachable moment was this: when times are difficult, challenging, frustrating, or scary you may get knocked off your IT! By embracing and moving towards the tension, you will find the strength and courage to KEEP IT! However, if you focus on fighting, resisting or digging in when tension appears you can lose your “IT!” altogether.

What hook is keeping you from your IT!? Are you ready to swim toward the tension?


Illustration by Sam Hubbard