Make a Move
Crawfish are a big deal in Louisiana. Dad was in the Air Force and stationed in Alexandria, Louisiana at England Air Force Base. I would have been in the 5th or 6th grade. The two of us had been talking about how good a fried crawfish po-boy would be.
For those unfamiliar with a po-boy, it’s a sandwich served on French bread and features a meat…generally, some kind of fried seafood.
Dad announces, “Let’s solve this problem!” and goes to the shed. He starts putting stuff in the back of his pick-up and tells Mom that we’ll be back soon.
We both crawl in the truck. Dad tells me we have crawfish nets in the back of the truck and that we’re going to catch some, fry them up, and have sandwiches…but to do that we have to catch the crawfish.
Dad stops at a grocery store and buys some raw chicken. Then, we arrive at a pond. Dad cuts up the chicken into small pieces, ties them to the bottom of the nets, and sets them in the shallows of the pond. Three metal prongs, making the shape of a triangle, connect to the net, which stick up from the water. He has a long pole that allows him to pick up the net without having to get in the water.
He sets at least 10 nets. Then, we wait.
We’re there 30 minutes and Dad says, “Oh crap.” At that moment, I see it. A water moccasin, a very abundant and poisonous snake, is swimming toward the traps. First and foremost, Dad doesn’t want the snake to get near us. Furthermore, he doesn’t want the snake in the traps eating the chicken–no bait means no crawfish. But most of all, we just don’t like snakes.
What does Dad do? He finds a rock about half the size of his hand.
Dad had been a famed high school baseball pitcher in Calvin, Louisiana. I knew he had been good. But…not as good as what I was about to witness…
The snake gets closer and closer. Dad does the windup, delivers the pitch…and BAM! The rock hits the snake squarely on the head. It was a perfect pitch! The snake just rolled over…dead.
True story…I remember it like it was yesterday.
Dad takes the long pole, fishes the snake out of the water, and cuts off its head with a machete he always carried in a box in his truck. (It’s a Louisiana thing. Don’t ask.)
I was amazed.
“Dad, that was incredible. I knew you were a good baseball pitcher, but one shot and you nailed that snake.”
Dad responded, “I took a chance and made the right shot. Don’t be too impressed. I just had to take the chance. If I had missed, I would have kept trying with more rocks.”
There’s the leadership lesson: you have to take a chance.
You may not achieve victory on the first attempt. Very few ideas ever do, but keep trying. So what if you fail? All you’ve really done is discover a way that won’t work. Keep clawing your way toward your goal.
Know this, too: sometimes the odds will force your hand. The snake forced Dad to act. New competition, new platforms or a change in how the product is made may push you to act. Be nimble enough to make the move.
Dad could have said, “Well, we’re done for the day…” or, “That’s a failed attempt…” but he didn’t.
Neither should you!
Be like Dad…take the chance. Make a move.
Not only will your organization thrive, but you’ll grow in your confidence as a leader. You never know, you may spend the evening eating crawfish po-boys like we did.