Photo by Swift Benjamin

Are you learning and applying that learning on exactly what’s most important to you? Or, are you learning what your world requires you to learn, in dribs-and-drabs?

I’ve been thinking about how lifelong learning is so much more important now, yet we seem to never have time for real, deep learning. We are skimming material. We read a book or take a course and then either don’t or partially apply our learning. We have more than enough excuses that we endorse with each other—the biggest one is lack of time.

Of course, as a coach, everything I do with clients is about learning and applying that learning to results achievement and new, sustained capability. And sometimes clients tell me just the fact that I’m meeting with them twice a month, they are making great progress. It’s focused, intentional, supported learning. It’s thrilling when it all comes together.

But even in my work with people, the hardest part is often securing the time and consistent application.

One client recently made the analogy of his own leadership development with learning to fish. He said he wants to “teach his people to fish” not “fish for them.” So, we started talking about how ones learns to really fish—the difference between being able to cast a line and being able to read the water. To really learn to fish, you need:

The Basics

  1. Get the equipment.
  2. Set up your fishing rod properly.
  3. Read about or watch someone cast the rod and reel the rod in.
  4. Practice all that about a 100 times.

After you learn this, you will be fishing, but not necessarily catching.


  1. Fish every chance you get—making time to fish during peek fishing months.
  2. Read and talk fishing with people who know what they’re doing.
  3. Observe other people catching fish.
  4. Observe yourself fishing, and observe yourself catching.
  5. Try different things when you’re not catching; at the same time have patience.
  6. Watch the water and practice seeing the fish until you can read-the-water.

You have to enjoy the learning process. Enjoy the act of fishing and the learning process!

I was going to make all the connections to professional learning, but this is already getting a little long for time-starved people—and you’re smart enough to do that for yourself.

But before we go, what about our lack of time to learn? I will challenge you here in the same way I do on many other things we say we can’t or don’t have time to do.

“If I paid you $100,000 to master one thing very important to your success in a very focused, intentional way—you would find the way.”

So the question really is, “what’s important to you?” It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, just very important or something for which you can generate a lot of desire.

If you like this post, you may want to review:

Fish ON!

The Hardest Question

Fishing and Baseball

Bringing Presence to the Important Stuff