I’ve used the “Never give up!” phrase for quite awhile relating to fishing, but the whole thing began back in the early stages of my decathlon career.
Early on, it became clear to me that you needed more than just talent to succeed in the two-day, 10-event decathlon; you needed to be mentally tough, too. It was easy to quit when the chips were down in a pressure-packed competition. I began to study the sport and what it really took to win. Here’s what I learned from my 13 years competing at the world-class level that has also served me well in fishing.
Like many, I had assumed that the best athletes with the best marks were the ones going to the Olympics. Incredibly, I found that in the Olympic Trials – where the pressure was intense – the guys who usually made the team were athletes who just stayed steady and finished. This cycle repeated itself year after year in the records I reviewed of big meets. It wasn’t glamorous that took the day. It was steady persistence under pressure.
It became evident that the real battle was the mental one, and that every decathlete felt the pressure. Self-doubt, fear, possible failure, unreal expectations and pain were the universal companions all of us carried inside, making quitting seem reasonable. Each athlete thought no one else had these issues.
Therefore, if I just didn’t give up, it was likely I’d finish ahead of many of the other athletes who would. We are our own worst enemies. Is fishing any different?
Funny that we all tend to think that we need to do great things to achieve and win and be different, but the truth is that by simply practicing just never giving up you separate yourself from the masses right from the start. Focus on doing the hard thing – that thing that usually stops you (and everyone else, too!).
The internal battle is the one we need to win. We usually think everyone is so much better than we are, and that they aren’t feeling the pressure, too. We all are, no matter how cool we may look. If world-class athletes feel it, then it’s something we all face. Giving in to the little voices talking to us when we get tired or discouraged is where many lose it. “Never give up!” became my mantra – and a major secret to whatever success I had.
I see anglers giving up all the time. The success they were looking for was just a few more casts away, but it was easier to quit. Yeah, there is a time to stop, but we need to understand that making that choice to keep going when it’s tough is the very place where we become better. “Never giving up!” is a choice we have to make again and again to truly succeed.
Never give up!