As you’ll learn, I’m an avid fly fisherman. Calling it a hobby would be a lie and somewhat insulting. I fish whenever I can and have stopped doing other things so that I can have more time to fish. Living in the Northwest makes this a pursuit of deliberate focus on some of the best waters in the world. It’s magical.
This past weekend, My son and I went with the Native Fish Society and Trout Unlimited to snorkel with trout. It was amazing and I learned more that I thought I would. We scooted, clawed and swam through the various holes and structures in the stream. Along the way we saw baby Chinook, Steelhead, Coho and Cutthroat. They swam around us and generally ignored us. It was fascinating to be so disregarded by something that would normally flee from my presence. They weren’t being hunted and they knew it.
As one of the scientists that day said “You don’t even qualify as a seal. You are slow and clumsy.” The fish knew we were no threat, and could care less about us being there.
As you may know, I’m developing an app called TellFly. It’s a fishing diary on steroids. The app allows a fly fisher the ability to geek out on the data that they collect over time and to learn from that data. We’ve talked with fisherman, with our users. I’ve field tested the app for months now. But on Saturday, I got to swim with fish and the experts that study them. One of the folks I spoke with had snorkeled 45 miles of river this summer. 45 MILES!
One morning with these experts radically challenged some of my assumptions about what was important in fishing and in the app itself. To be honest, it was humbling. I was so wrong about so many of the things that I had thought were fact based on 30 years of experience.
I walked away from that experience feeling humbled by the experts that I had talked to. I thought it would be a cool experience with my son. And it was, but it also radically challenged many of my assumptions.
So, sometimes, learning comes by “being” the thing that you are working with. For this example, what does it mean to be a fish? How will what I saw affect the application? How will knowledge about fish help the fisherman and improve the app?
The lesson for me is that learning must never stop. Just because you have a solution doesn’t mean that something won’t challenge what you know and humble you a little, or a lot. And when that learning comes, can you be humble to enough to let it challenge you and open you up to new possibilities?