I am not a fisherman and I don’t eat seafood. In my opinion fish smell bad, taste bad and the hassle of getting them from the sea to the plate seems far too much of a smelly mess for this red meat eater. So when a good mate gave my eldest son a fishing rod my first thought was “oh crap!”
But my job as a dad comes with fine print on the contract that includes dirty nappy changing, projectile vomit patrol, meal-time Mexican stand-off and the bit I pretended I didn’t know about taking kids fishing. So when I saw my son smile from ear to ear as he admired his snazzy new red rod I knew I was in trouble. I’d be out of my comfort zone and on a steep learning curve. Tide movements, sinker weights, bait types were all things I had heard about but never impacted my life… until now.
Like all jobs, being a dad has its great moments, like watching your two sons play together or watching the elder child console his younger sibling and dry away his tears or best of all seeing them share loving cuddles. But just like all jobs, it also has its parts where you think to yourself “did I really sign up for this?” Of course the answer is “yes I did”.
A job contract is not much different. Working in paid or unpaid employment also comes with responsibility. Every job has a purpose, required outcomes and is usually made up of a set of tasks. Having worked in the employment sector for the past 15 years in Australia, Canada and Ireland, I realised long ago there is no such thing as the perfect job. Just like fatherhood and fishing for me, most jobs have some aspects that are neither enjoyable nor satisfying but just have to be done. But it is amazing what can be done when your mindset towards these aspects rotates 180 degrees.
This is what has happened to me when it comes to fishing. Knowing my son is keen to catch his first fish, combined with my mate who is also keen to give it a go means I have no choice. So this is how I found myself fishing yesterday morning standing in the rain in the middle of winter (albeit a Queensland winter which doesn’t really count when you compare to most places). There I was at the end of the jetty in the rain with my mate and my two sons and I was thinking I could be at home watching the highlights of last night’s Ashes Test Cricket, AFL and any other sport I could find. But then a funny thing happened.
I was holding the rod whilst my son was distracted playing with his younger brother when I felt a tug on the line… what a feeling. My heart started beating a little faster as the adrenalin kicked in. “Quick son, come and see”. I passed the rod over. “Dad, I’ve got one… I’ve caught a fish!” exclaimed my son as he reeled in his prized Yellowfin Bream. I took the fish off the hook, passed it to my son and I looked down into his smiling face brimming with pride. And in that moment, I realised even this crappy fishing thing I have to do in my job as a dad has its positives. This was a moment between my son and I that would never be repeated… catching his first fish. Suddenly my drenched jeans and smelly prawn bait hands didn’t seem so annoying. In fact they made the catch so much more rewarding. My only regret was that I couldn’t get the camera out in time before the wriggly fish slipped out of my sons hand, fell back into the water and swam away. But I guess we can forever exaggerate the size of the catch and tell tales of the enormous fish that got away… “seriously it was THIS big”.
So guess who’s already looking forward to the next fishing trip? Yep, I am. And of course so are my boys and also my mate (he also caught a fish but his was much, much smaller than ours. He had to throw his back for being under-sized).
My job description for being a dad now has one less task in the “do I really have to do this?” section and one new “this is what it is all about” task. My attitude to fishing is changed forever.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’ll ever be a mad keen fisherman but I will no longer see it as a chore. Seeing the delight in my sons eyes if only for a second before the Bream’s great escape, has changed my mindset.
And so it can be with any job. There will always be things we must do in our jobs that will tempt us to procrastinate, whinge about or just avoid altogether. But what are you missing out on in the process? Perhaps a mindset change towards these tasks is just what you need. Sharing these tasks with others may be the best tactic I can give. If others enjoy parts of the job that you don’t and they see opportunity rather than frustration, join up with them and do these tasks together. Maybe their enthusiasm and positivity will rub off on you. Just like my son’s has on me with fishing.
It’s worth a try. You might be surprised.
Ben Walsh – General Manager, Recruitment