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Fishing, Work, and Life

Marilyn Tam

03/22/23 | Inspiration


Fishing, Work, and Life

How to align your values, work, and life happily and seamlessly

If I wasn’t standing by the water’s edge with my feet sinking slowly into the cool, wet sand while being misted by the fizzing salt spray, I’d think I was watching a video ad for Hawaii. On the black, glistening boulders jutting out of the churning ocean waves, a man was casting a net into the surging tide. He gracefully then pulled the net together and yes; he’s got a catch!

Cast net fishing on the rocks in surging tide. Better be prepared!

Shouldering his haul, he stepped easily and carefully over the appearing and disappearing rocks in the surging waves back to shore. He spread his net out on the grassy knoll to retrieve the flapping fish. Smiling, he greeted me as I came up. I was fascinated by this unfolding story of living off the land. A righteous way of living.

I complimented him on his harvest, and he offered me part of his catch. Gratefully I declined since I didn’t have anything to carry the fish in, even though I knew that my friends would love freshly caught fish for dinner. Besides, I had no money or any food with me to offer in exchange. He smiled and said, you are helping me by sharing part of my catch. I was touched by his generosity and even more so when I found out that he had five children! He said that they prefer store-bought food; there’s more than enough for him and his wife and for the children to have a taste.

A fisherman walking back from the ocean with a net filled with fish over his shoulder
Cast net fisherman coming back from the ocean with a haul of fish in his net.

He pulled a blade off a nearby coconut palm frond and removed the leafy part, leaving only the tough spine on most of the blade except for an inch of the leaf close to the stem. He then threaded the fish through the gills onto the coconut blade hook he made. Portable, organic, and sturdy carriers for the fish made in a couple of minutes — this is truly sustainable living!

How does this compare to how we live? Most of us are insulated from the origin and process of how our food arrives at our plate, and similarly in our work and lives. When we understand how events and things “show up”, we will have greater respect and knowledge to manage what develops in alignment with our values, for greater creativity, efficiency, and productivity.

Cast net fisherman showing off his catch on the grass by the beach, with the fish flopping about.
A successful cast! Prepare, perform and harvest!

How do we apply this key concept to our work and daily life? The fisherman checked the weather and ocean conditions, brought the right net, wore surf booties to grip the rocks and to prevent cuts, and waited till the proper moment before he cast his net. Before that he had to learn how to throw the net and what types of fish may be in the area. Take careful stock of the state of affairs, and expectations in your work/life and develop a plan based on them. Obtain the training, proper tools, and connections so that you can accomplish your goals. In other words, develop fuller understanding of the circumstances in your work and life and how and where you fit into the overall picture — then you can manage and act accordingly to achieve the results you desire. Specifically:

1. In your life: do you know your life purpose?

When you are living your life purpose, you make decisions from a solid foundation. You know what is important to you and that keeps you on your path to happiness, and success. Your interests, commitments and passions are aligned, your rate of favorable outcome increases because everything in you is in harmony and alignment.

The fisherman went to the ocean to catch fish for dinner. He chose to learn how to cast a net, read the ocean conditions, get the proper equipment, and spend the time and risk of not catching anything, instead of going to the store to buy already caught and processed fish. He is connecting with his heritage and nature, two aspects of life that are important to him. He is living in alignment with his reason for being and he finds joy in the process. The fish he catches, cleans, and cooks up will taste a lot better to him than if he picked some up at the grocery store!

Likewise, examine your decisions and actions on whether you are in coherence with your values. Ask yourself the following questions:

What makes you feel happy and at peace?

What makes you feel fulfilled?

What would you like to be remembered for?

What is your dream?

Is your work fulfilling your life purpose?

Are you committed to participating in and contributing to your organization’s mission/purpose?

With your life purpose clarified and anchored in your decision-making process, your discernment and deeds will reflect what you hold most dear. Your chance for success expands, and even if you miss, you will have less regrets and learn more from the process.

Aligned with his life purpose, he prepared and carried out his project. He is reaping the reward, a bountiful harvest.

2. In your work, ask yourself these probing questions:

What is your work purpose?

What end results are you seeking?

What factors will enable you to succeed?

Who are your allies/partners?

Why do they want you to be successful?

Who are your customers, what are their needs?

What are the determining criteria that will attract your customers?

Who are your competitors?

How can you and your products and services stand out and be better?

And equally important, how Is your work aligned with your life purpose and values? You can only fully attain your goals and flourish when your head and heart are working in tandem in full passion and purpose.

Like the cast net fisherman, plan and be prepared to throw the net over the catch you want at the appropriate time. Consider each of the above question and take time to research and answer them honestly and clearly. Examine your current ideas and assumptions for accuracy and relevance to assess whether you need to update your existing strategies, expand your network and/or modify your messaging, products, and services. Your responses will provide you with the information to form the blueprint and game plan to accomplish your objectives. You will be much better prepared to achieve your desired results with a focused goal, and action plan.

I am grateful to to this Hawaiian cast net fisherman for reminding me of what is important in life and work. Are you? Happy fishing, happy life!

Enjoy your rich harvest of goodness and happiness from your well aligned and carried out plan.