They say (and I don’t really know who “they” are), that if you give a person a fish, they will eat for the day. If you teach a person to fish, they will never go hungry.
I never truly understood the value of that saying until getting let go due to coronavirus (in honesty, the startup I was with was and probably still is financially on the rocks). I went from feeling like a six-figure income earner on Friday to suddenly realizing I was a zero-figure income earner on a Monday. But that feeling of being a high wage income earner isn’t tied to your actual salary, it’s a feeling of self worth abiet problematically associated (never great to associate your self worth with a number).
A friend told me he wasn’t worried. Another friend said she’d like to hire me for her startup but they don’t have a right role yet, and she’s afraid I won’t be available. I had thought her comment to be so incredulous! Won’t be available? How? I was literally unemployed and submitting my application for unemployment insurance benefits.
But then something unexpected happened. An opportunity that went cold in February suddenly became hot again, and even better that the co-Founder of that startup reached out to chat with me. It meant an expedited recruitment process.
And within 2 weeks of that conversation and 4 weeks of being unemployed, I had an offer for a role. A really good offer for a really good role.
My mindset has shift since then. How did my two friends, people who know me pretty well, seem to have foreseen something when I didn’t? How did they know I would be fine? That I would recover when I didn’t see how or when I would be fine?
It brings me back to the idea of fishing. I know how to fish in the metaphorical sense. I got myself to where I am today, the experiences and skill sets that let me have that high income job before didn’t just disappear with the high income job, I still have it – I am still me.
I think that’s something I didn’t realize before. The job or role didn’t make me. Everything that I was, I still am.
In the Financial Independence community they talk about this in terms of money. Give a person a million dollars and they could spend it all and that would be the end. Give a person nothing and if she can figure out how to make a million dollars, she can spend it all, lose it all… and still know how to make a million dollars again.
This is the same with most achievements. If you don’t take a shortcut, if you put in the work, what you get isn’t just the reward promised (ie. a salary, a fit body, better health or wealth, friends..) – you learn the ability to go fishing. You develop the competency and ability to get those results again. Maybe you learned some lessons along the way and the second time around will be easier.
Building muscle memory, grit, discipline to execute. I am less concerned about the future because not only do I know I have the resources to meet it, but I know that I have met it time and time again, and I have been all the better for it.