Acting on a challenge from my daughter, I decided to mark the approach of a significant milestone in my life next month by creating a personal and professional timeline for myself. And I must say that doing so has been a really encouraging and even empowering experience, especially when I realize how much I may yet be able to accomplish and how fortunate I’ve been to have had the family support, health and stamina to enable me to do whatever I’ve managed to do so far.
In particular, asking myself the question of what should come next – that is, which of my current self-appointed tasks need to be tackled sooner rather than later – was itself an exciting if somewhat intimidating process. Then, while surfing the Internet, I stumbled upon a website honoring my family’s fishing fleet. It was humbling to look at and realize that my father paid for my education by venturing out into the middle of the Pacific Ocean every year with 20 guys and a boat. Just looking at those pictures brought back all the childhood memories of my dad, uncle and their intrepid crew in seemingly fearless pursuit of the tuna they depended on for a living.
It also reminded me of the many lessons I learned during my summers as an adolescent apprentice on my dad’s boat – lessons I chronicled in a book I wrote back in 2010 called Uncharted Waters, and got me to thinking how some of that wisdom I acquired out on the open water might help me in achieving the 14 goals I created for myself at the beginning of this year (which I briefly described in a blog last month).
I might for example, start by again finding my “True North” – the fixed sense of purpose that serves as a fundamental guide for all decisions and activities, which Myron Lyskanycz and I did when we were called on to revise the mission statement of the Humane Society of the United States. Or “knowing that I’m going to catch fish“– that is, always embarking on any venture with a positive outlook. Or “listening to my automatic pilot” and knowing when a course correction is in order – as I did when I saw the movie Forrest Gump, which inspired me to approach Paramount with a licensing proposal that ending up rebranding a friend’s sea food company, Meridian Products, as Bubba Gump Shrimp, leading to the creation of the restaurant chain by the same name.
So what I plan to do is to go through that book again – yes, I know I wrote it, but now that some time has passed, perhaps I can look at it once more and learn from my own experiences, as if I needed a refresher course in life.
For example, maybe what it will take to create a safer and healthier work environment for all people that work indoors or to make organic and healthy products available to everyone is an “all hands on deck” approach. Or perhaps I need to keep in mind to “seek out the sashimi eaters” – those who are more receptive to unorthodox ideas – in attempting to cultivate and mentor a group of young people who can take on causes and find commercially viable solutions to problems.
And what about our relaunch of S&H Green Stamps as a “Sustainable and Healthy” product rewards platform. – what better example of the lesson that nothing should ever really be thrown away, but rather recycled for new uses?
In fact, now that I think of it, perhaps it might be a good idea if I gave copies of the book to the people who I hope will assist me in achieving these objectives. I can’t help but feel that those boyhood lessons I learned at sea might now be as instrumental in creating a happier, healthier and more sustainable society as they were in enabling my dad, brothers and cousins to sustain a prosperous and productive family enterprise for all those years.