My family and I are at a house on a sheep farm in Elk Creek, Virginia this week. A little time away from home.

We’ve been here for a couple of days now and this morning my wife (Sarah) and one of our kids (Calvin) went to the pond around the bend, past the creek, and down the meadow (sorry for the extra description, I feel like I have to write a little poetically because we’re on a beautiful farm with hills and meadows.)

Here’s what I learned while fixing a fishing pole:

1. I’m talking about the fishing poles where you can see the string (a ‘spinning reel’ I think they call it.) They’ve become more popular over the last decade and they’ve been nothing but frustrating to me. I don’t know how they work, can’t seem to fix them, and they elevate my blood pressure. This morning one of the poles got all twisted up and I became frustrated.

2. I huffed and puffed and just when I was close to tossing it down and just moving on with the one remaining working pole, I took a breath, slowed down, and DECIDED I was going to figure out how to fix it. Sometimes you have to take a breath and, more importantly, DECIDE that you’re going to work to fix the problem. We can control our attitudes way more than we realize.

3. I had my wife and one of my son’s watching me. That was a bit of a driver for me to step up and figure it out. Not wanting to disappoint those close to you can be a big driver!

4. I wished Phillip (the owner of the 450-acre sheep farm) or one of his farmhands would have driven by while I was struggling with it because I would have asked them for some help. Think about that in your life or in your business – are you to the point that you’re ready to look outside yourself and get help? A quick 5-minute lesson from Phillip would have made the whole thing easier. He didn’t drive by, so I just keep messing with it. By all means, keep messing with things – keep working to improve your situation, but don’t be shy about getting some outside help and coaching. It can lower the pain, frustration, and speed up the improvement and fixing of the problem.

5. Instead of trying to untangle the string, I cut the string, cleared the tangled knots, and started with a fresh string. Keep that in mind as you work to improve things in life/business – sometimes it’s good to start fresh instead of trying to fix something clunky and broken.

6. Before I started trying to dive in and FIX – I stepped back, looked, and examined. Sometimes it’s better to look and study before just diving in. Maybe something like the phrase ‘measure twice, cut once?’

7. I realized my first attempt was wrong and before I got too far, I went back and fixed it. This only happened because I walked over to Sarah and Calvin and looked closely at the working pole. That’s when I realized the string needed to go UNDER and out vs. over and out. Seeing that other example and gaining that bit of knowledge went a long way. Sometimes a little bit of knowledge and/or seeing how it works from someone else can be a huge key to moving you forward.

8. I have knowledge now that I didn’t have before. I have more confidence. I know how to fix it if things go wrong again. That’s powerful. In business, we can go years and years and years without stopping to learn and gain knowledge. Push through frustration and work to gain new insight – it will help you for the rest of your career/life.

9. I’d say the biggest thing that stands out in this little story to me is the part where I stopped whining and made the decision I was going to figure it out. We can change our attitude and turn things around – don’t forget that!

10. What is an area of your business you keep ignoring and/or that isn’t clear to you? Understanding financials? Reading your P&L? How to sell design and project development? How to manage your team in a better way? How to improve your marketing to generate better leads? Pick something, stop whining that it’s too hard (like me with the fishing pole!), and get to work on gaining new knowledge/training.

Anything stand out for you in this story? Please let me know!