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Tangled Mess

There was a light mist rolling across the top of the lake. The sun had just started to break through the predawn clouds as we eased the boat toward the spot. For a fisherman, there’s only a few things as exciting as the early morning top water bite.

I reached back and launched the rod forward, casting the lure out toward the shoreline. It wouldn’t take long, and I knew it. Within a few seconds, after only working the bait once or twice, a large swell appeared behind the line and I prepared for the explosion.

Suddenly the fish crashed through the top of the water and inhaled my lure. Boom! It was on! We were on them and before long we had landed three or four good sized largemouths. The last thing you want when the fishing is hot is for anything to slow you down.

I reeled in my line and reset for another cast. I whipped the rod back and then forward toward the target but my release was too quick. In a split second everything came to screeching halt as the line spooled up and stopped me in my tracks. When you’re fishing with a bait-casting reel “backlash” is like a kick in the gut. If you’re a novice fisherman it often is the result of not having proper technique or enough practice with the reel. If you are experienced, however, it often happens when you get too quick or a little bit lazy with your execution. Either way, it means you’re done until you can get it untangled and straightened out.

I call it taking your medicine. When you make a mistake and it creates a mess the only way to get back to what you want to be doing, to get back to the thing you love is to stop, clean up the mess, untangle the line and start fresh. Some guys may just toss the rod down and grab another waiting until later to get things back in order. Others may simply cut the line, sacrifice the lure and restring the rod in order to get back in the water. Not me. Whenever I “backlash” a reel I have to get it straightened out before I can move on. Maybe it’s discipline or maybe it’s just O.C.D. but it’s been my practice and personality for years.

As I was missing the bite and wrestling with my line the other day I had a thought.

“What if we handled our setbacks in life this way? Would it make us better men?”

When you’re rocking along in life and suddenly you get snarled up, it’s usually because we get a little lazy in our execution. Most of the time when my life ends up in a tangled mess it’s because I’ve gotten soft on my disciplines. I don’t communicate clearly enough or I cut a corner on something and the next thing I know I’m in a mess.

The next time things get sideways, instead of just switching gears to another path, or throwing away what’s working, what if I stop, take my medicine, and untangle the line? Sure it may cost me something in the short term, but it would probably make a difference in the long run.

If you will stop, untangle your mess and straighten things out when they happen it can do two things for you:

It will give you time to consider what went wrong. Why did this happen? What did I miss that created this chaos?

When you stop to overcome adversity as opposed to switching directions it builds confidence. The next time you encounter a snag or tangled mess you will approach it with more confidence having overcome it before.

If you’ve got a mess somewhere in your life today stop, clean it up, and get back to chasing what you love to chase. You will never have the impact that you were designed for if you can’t work through a little “backlash” every now and then.

You are a man who matters. Clean up your mess. Learn from your mistakes. Move forward confidently.


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