Of Fisherman and Preachers

Some of the fondest memories of my childhood are of the many, many enjoyable experiences I had with a fishing pole attached to me. In my early teens I came into a couple steel rowboats for the bargain prices of $15 and $25 from a friend who owned a boat rental business with plans to sink them if he didn’t get a buck for them. The first one I sank, the second one my brother Jerry, deprived me of an inevitable repeat performance by doing the same on his way back across the lake after a camping trip with a friend, while I was in the Air Force. For months after I got out of the service there was a dampening sound to his voice when I would ask, “Where was my sleeping bag, or my bow and arrows, or camp stove, and of course, my fishing tackle?”

Unfortunately, as life has ‘pressed on,’ a thing called work has gotten in the way of my pursuit of the fishes. But I’ll always cherish my many hours before and after school, and later work, trolling for trout, shore lining with a popper for bass, and catfishing across the lake all night with night crawlers in front of a fire. And when I wasn’t in the boat I was usually on the shore with my grandfather fishing for perch. And we usually, ‘tore them up.’

Exemplifying the true American spirit of freedom and enterprise is the straight commissioned American salesmen who have largely helped keep our system of commerce vibrant. Salesmen have been called a lot of things, likened to a lot of others and compared to a lot of other professions through the years. Two of my favorite comparisons are fisherman and preachers.

Fisherman. Oh…for so many reasons… I mean real fishermen! Not some ‘could care less’ line wetter’s, but real ‘acid’ fishermen. Because after all I am comparing them with real professional ‘heavyweight’ salesmen. The causes and effects of their similarities are so alike.

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Many of these fishing ‘nuts’ are arisen, departed and arrived before the rooster stirs and waiting for the sun’s first glitter upon the water. If they don’t catch anything here, they try there. If still nothing, then there. There. There. There… At a point, and usually there are several, in the course of a typical trip, many weighty decisions have to be made. Like using weights. Like: sinkers, egg lead, split shot, BB’s or not using weights. Then there are many other decisions to be made. Such as changes in tackle, or whether to go to artificial bait, lures, plugs, bobbers, snags, nets, dynamite and almost anything on the way to everything until the reason for the purpose of being there presents itself. The right ‘chemistry’ could even include shades of witchcraft like a lucky hat, crossed fingers and even holding your tongue in a particular configuration. A favorite person in my childhood, Bob Graham, my uncle’s father-in-law, convinced me when I was young that holding my tongue just right (curled up) made luck just right and we’d catch fish. He cracked me up. And when you went fishing with Bob Graham you always caught fish. (It’s doubtful that this one would work for many salesmen.) But, the main similarities with salesmen should be obvious: faith, energy, imagination, flexibility, application and persistence.

Now these fishermen, suppose they ever had days they didn’t catch anything? Many! But like the successful salesmen they just can’t wait to get back and get their chemistry, timing or particular witchcraft right. Because aside from their hunger to succeed, one of the strongest assets they have is their faith.


You guessed it. Now for my preacher routine. Well, it goes without saying that preachers certainly exemplify faith. But, I think of them more as teachers and motivators. Preachers’ calling as the strongest believers are judged on their ability to teach and motivate. No experienced salesman worth his salt could possibly have gone far in his career without at some point reminding himself of the pulpit pounding man of the cloth trying to make a vivid impact on his flock.

In my opinion, if salesmen cannot relate to this, they are not running on a full charge and might possibly need some pumpin’ up in the good ol’ product knowledge/comparison/enthusiasm departments. American patriots that don’t get it likewise need to begin discovering what America is really all about. Opportunity, freedom and working hard at persistently applying ourselves to accomplish whatever goals we wish to achieve.

I say great fisherman would make great salesmen. I say preachers are great salesmen. I also say that America would be doing just fine if all Americans understood the mindset of great fisherman and preachers like the heart of great salesmen and lived their lives accordingly.

As the often quoted old Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime;” we must get our citizens, and especially our younger ones that aren’t getting the traditional educations we got, to understand that America is not about freebies, entitlements and guarantees. It is about the unrestrained freedom to work hard in our pursuit of our dreams.

Talk show host Dennis Prager, a Jewish conservative, in May 2010 during a panel discussion at the University of Denver is quoted by Scott Hennen in his book Grass Roots as saying, “I believe the greatest threat facing America…is that we have not passed on what it means to be an American to this generation…. The average American who loves his country, and even has conservative values, cannot articulate what those values are.”

Go fish, and get in touch with your inner patriotic self… and take a kid with you. And fish until you catch ’em.

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