This past Saturday I did a ‘talk’ at the Natal Fly Fishers / Federation of South African Flyfishing annual general meeting.
I’m not comfortable in rooms full of relative strangers. It’s not that I’m shy or anything, I’m just not great at small talk and making quick social connections. What I am is cripplingly self-conscious. Still, I was asked after a few pints (my Kryptonite) and a mix of that and a great respect for the guy who asked me (my other Kryptonite) had me saying yes immediately.
While I quite often talk in front of groups of relative strangers in my business life it’s pretty easy to do; the subject matter is known and there are rules and a common culture that allows you to slip into it quite comfortably. In the instance of a room full of strangers the dynamics change quite a bit. Firstly, they’re there (one assumes) to be entertained as well as informed and secondly, you run a real risk of looking like a knob in front of your peers (at least 80% of people in corporate stuff look like knobs, but they’re protected by the culture).
Anyhow, I was asked to talk on how I make wooden landing nets. I’d hardly said yes to the idea when I realized that two problems immediately presented themselves:
1. It’s a mindnumbingly boring topic
2. Making nets funds my fishing addiction and the competition is already pretty stiff
I couldn’t just dismiss the request and do whatever I felt like doing (I’m starting to earn a somewhat less than exemplary reputation for being a bit ‘disrespectful’), as well as that respect thing that I mentioned above.
No. Clearly I’d have to find a third option. I started working on the presentation far too close to the date of the event and covered the ‘how-to’ bit fairly quickly and, I think, succinctly. The part that I was looking for as the main theme came to me almost immediately in the process. I’d like to share it again, with your indulgence, as I think that it’s important – rather, it is important; so pay attention.
[It was written to talk to. It doesn’t read very well. But that’s not the point.]
Creativity is the process making of entirely something new from something that already exists.
You are a flyfisher.
Your success relies on observing your environment (often down to minute detail) and by creatively mimicking this in your lure and its presentation to your target. By the fact that you haven’t given up the long rod in favour of a golf club leads me to suspect that you’re probably pretty observant and creative already.
Fly fishing is the ideal vehicle for creativity. It is inherent in an activity that takes you to places and gives you experiences that raise the spirit and which fuels the creative process. Cricket has hollowed out watermelon hats. Rugby has – what? Blue balls beneath HiLuxes? No, no other pastime out there rivals fly fishing for the amount of creativity required to be remotely successful at it.
Allow yourself to be inspired by these influences. Acknowledge them and seek them out voraciously. Immerse yourself in them until they overwhelm you.
I urge you to then take these influences and to use them to create that which fires your soul – paint, draw, write, split cane, bend sticks, tie flies, take photographs, machine a reel, write a song (the “windknots-suck-and-I-lost-a-bloody-bus-in-the-weeds talking blues). Ok, Maybe not a song.
Allow yourself to be creative and to create.
I can almost guarantee you that you aren’t going to be the next Garrison, Hardy, Skues, Gierach, vom Hofe, Young, Maclean, Etc..
I can’t guarantee that you won’t be the next Sutcliffe, Brigg, Boschoff, Geldenhuys, Erwin, Bertram Smith, Fowler, Etc.
What I can absolutely guarantee you that you’ll be a better version of yourself.
In the end that’s all that matters.