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Are you a master baiter?

F. Y. Teng | May 10, 2010
Specialisation can and often does hurt your career, keeping you boxed in a role, stuck in a rut you cant get out of.

Twelve years ago, just as we were working on putting out the launch issue of CIO Asia, my mentor, the then Managing Editor at IDG Communications Singapore, James Miller told me this story of two boys who went fishing. To make the retelling a little easier for myself, I have given them names.

One hot summer afternoon, two teenage boys, Ben and Joe, dug up some worms for bait, and went down to the lake with their fishing rods.

Ben stuck a worm on the hook, and having determined it was securely in place, pulled back his rod and cast the line out as far as he could into the lake, before perching himself on a rock.

Joe started out doing the same, but after putting the worm on the hook, considered it closely for a while, turning the hook to one side then the next, shook his head quietly with disappointment, and pulled off the half dead worm and threw it aside.

He then looked into the jar of worms, picked up the fattest, juiciest one he could find, proceeded to bait his hook one more time, very carefully and slowly, only to be disappointed again.

Joe threw that worm away too, and stuck his fingers back into the jar yet again in search of (what one could only think at the time was) the perfect bait.

That second worm landed in Bens lap. He started and turned around to see why, and ended up watching Joe at work with the bait and hook, the same sequence run by him repeatedly. Joe would put the bait in place, examine it centimetre by centimetre as he turned it round and round for a complete 360-degree view, sigh, pull off the worm, throw it away, then stick his hand into the jar for another worm.

The afternoon wore on. Ben caught a fish, then another one, then another all, he caught three that day. And Joe did the same thing over and over again until there were no more worms left.

As they walked home, Ben could no longer hold back.

What was that all about? he asked.

What was what all about? Joe asked.

All that with the putting the bait on and throwing it away stuff.

Oh that. Yea, it just wasnt right.

What wasnt right?

There was always something wrong with the bait. The first one was too skinny. The second one was too fat. The third was pierced on the wrong end. The fourth…

And for that you just let an entire afternoon go by without even casting a single line out? Look what I have here. Ben held up his biggest catch.


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