FISH ON!!! - The Mental Toughness Coach - Chris Dorris


I love deep sea fishing. There is no sport or form of entertainment that, for me, compares to the thrill of landing a massive sea behemoth. Just the possibility alone is so energizing. I’ve spent many a day alone on the sea having caught nothing but having experienced the sensation of “maybe, just maybe, today’s the day” – the excitement of potential.

The sea is so vast and so deep and so unknown. It’s another world. And fishing it, especially for the big game, is an exercise of pure uncertainty, contradiction and paradox. And if you can’t deal with those, then the deep sea ain’t for you.

Fishermen worldwide like to entertain the illusion that they’ve really figured things out. Like seeing the temperature line in the water and knowing that a marlin won’t cross it. Expert tips like that give the false sense of certainty at times. But no matter how much you study the behavior of the prize fish you seek and the water it lives in, you can never know where the fish will be or even when you find them if they’ll be in the mood to bite. You can catch 13 big ones on Friday and return to that spot every day for the rest of your life and never catch another. Pure uncertainty.

I spent a lot of time fishing out on the ocean. I’ve worked on both public/recreational and commercial fishing boats. I’ve been around a lot of fisherman. I understand that commercial fishermen need to catch fish for their livelihood. I’m not talking about that right here. I’m talking about sport fishing. And in my observation, there are two types of sport fishermen. The type that fish to catch fish, and the type who fish for possibility.

The former are happy when they have a good catch and miserable when they don’t. The latter are happy to be out there and intrinsically and authentically love everything about being out there, regardless of the outcome.

Now let’s say that the process of trying to create the life of your dreams is a sport. And let’s compare that sport to the sport of deep sea fishing. There’s a lot of similarities when you think about it. Uncertainty, paradox, contradiction. If you’re not cool with those, you’re not gonna have a very good time. Regardless of whether or not you “catch” your prize. Because the next day, it’s just as unpredictable as the day before. And there are two types of “athletes”. The type that are happy when things go their way and immediately shift into suffering when they don’t, and the type that chooses causeless joy – who choose to experience the game as it is and love it that way without having their happiness be contingent upon anything external. The latter are the fishers of possibility. They are in love with the possibility of that miracle. Open to that possibility yet not attached to it. Free to experience all the magic that’s out there every day.

Interestingly, by the way, my observation has been that the most successful fishermen are the ones who fish for possibility.

Let’s go fishin’!


  1. Hans Sieber says:

    My Dad always used to say (and I’m sure it wasn’t him) “Some days we go fishing, some days we catch fish. Every day fishing is a good day.”

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