How Can A Fish Can Teach You About Changing Why You Do Things the Way You Do Them?

  The following is an excerpt from my new book, which I plan to publish in early 2013:

One way I’ve found helpful to envision a paradigm is as a fish tank.  And within this fish tank you are the fish.   Of course, an actual fish would not only have no cause to reflect on why she is in her particular fish tank, but she would also have no ability to do so.  Unless this fish was a character from the Disney movie, Finding Nemo.

But just as paradigms do for you, all the reasons why a fish does the things the way she does them is governed and dictated by the unique fish tank in which she lives.  Why does she swim in the particular routine she always does?  Why does she sleep where and when she does?  Why does she eat where and when she does?  The unique fish tank she inhabits is the reason.

The fish tank in our metaphor is the home to a little fish named Splash, who has a burning desire to become a powerful deep-ocean swimmer.  Given her dream, Splash investigates what she’ll need to do to reform herself and her swimming abilities to achieve her goals.  Splash finds a great book full of expert instruction, written by a champion tuna living in the Atlantic Ocean.  The tuna’s workout program provides Splash with step-by-step instructions which, when followed faithfully, promise to transform any fish into an open-ocean powerhouse.

After a restful night’s sleep, Splash jumps out of her bed because she is so excited to begin the program.  Already brimming with desire to achieve her dreams, Splash bubbles with anticipation because she not only has the willingness to work hard, but now she also has the expert instruction she needs to reach her goal.

But after following the tuna’s program for a month, Splash has only made minor progress toward her goal.  She has worked diligently every day, following all the instructions to the letter, and her intense desire to achieve her goal has never wavered.  Yet she has failed to reach her intended outcome; Splash is still the same little swimmer she was when she started.  In despair, Splash gives up and, with a tear, sadly declares to herself, “I guess I’m just not cut out to be a deep-sea swimmer.”

Splash tries to move on with her life, resigned to her fate.  But, as is usually the case with our deep desires, Splash is never really able to say goodbye to her dreams; no matter how much she tells herself that deep-sea swimming is not her “destiny”, that dream remains.  So when Splash happens across another program, written by a famous porpoise, a month later, she gets excited and rekindles her resolve to achieve her goal.  “I must have had the wrong book last time,” Splash enthusiastically tells herself after reading through the porpoise’s program.

Splash does exactly the same thing this time as the last; powered by her renewed excitement and feverish desire, she once again works diligently each day, follows every one of the porpoise’s instructions exactly, and never doubts that she will reach her goal.  Yet, once again, after a month and a half this time, Splash is forced to accept that she has failed again.  Notice that she now feels like a failure; she’s not just sad, she’s now blaming herself.  And she doesn’t just suffer tears this time.  Splash spends two days holed up in the corner of her fish tank soothing her wounded psyche with chocolate ice cream.

Stay tuned to this blog to discover what happens to Splash next…

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