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  • Ian Gordon

Leaders and Followers. How to Achieve or not!

Making things happen. Obtaining a result.  A blog about achieving.


No matter how you look at things, the key to real success and positive outcomes, no matter what field, is People! Having the right people in the right positions is vital to anything working properly or obtaining the best result.

For around 18 months I’d struggled with knee pain and knew I needed a replacement. All the time I continued to work and, fortunately for me, came across several people who, seeing I was in pain, wanted to help.  What on earth has this got to do with fly fishing and casting I hear you ask? Well. Quite! Be patient.


Pay attention to and follow the instruction of your physio, both pre and post Operation, is mega important in achieving the best chance of a positive outcome. Everyone with experience told me this. Some of those drumming this into me were professional medical people and others those who had gone through the operation.

I was so lucky to have the best people around me. One of those, David Angliss, an amazingly passionate anesthetist of 40 years, with great knowledge of medicine and all types of operations, told me, “Ian, pay for the best physio you can prior to the operation, this is so important”. This will have a big bearing on the outcome.


A month prior to the operation I made an appointment with a private physio where I got clear instruction on what to expect during, and how to deal with the rehab post operation. One of the most important things I took from this was the importance of preparation, both physically and mentally. Which muscle set to work on/strengthen. David also told me, if possible, to shy away from general anesthetic, something which turned out to be amazingly good advice, as I could begin my physio quickly without being overly tired from this.  Add to this the fact I was treated by the most amazing professional team of people on the ground [Hospital Staff] and all the ducks were lined up for a potentially great recovery. One week on and the net result of all of this is incredible. Bilateral Knee Replacement [both knees at the same time] and walking perfectly, pain free and without the aid of sticks. Without exception, everyone has commented, “That’s amazing”! “Incredible”! But is it really?


The bottom line is, all I’ve done is follow the advice of professionals, people who know, have gained experience over years of working in that field observing and making mistakes. They haven’t simply read a book/report or absorbed the views of someone who’s idea of practical experience consists of one or two related experiments producing favorable results.


What I knew was, if I follow their advice then chances are, I will achieve the desired result, no ifs, buts or maybes. What I’m saying here is, there’s not much luck involved in this at all, reason being, I lined up all the ducks perfectly, drew on the knowledge of experienced people and followed their guide. I knew by doing this, 49 times out of 50, the result will be favorable. Luck plays only a small part!


All the clever/successful people I know or have met during my life follow the model above and are “leaders” in their field. They don’t waste their time with also rans. Those who ignore it tend to live in a world of following and uncertain decision making. Happy to make up the numbers for an easy ride


Can this be applied to anything? Well, of course it can, if “all” the ducks are lined up, you will succeed! A friend of mine, Michaela Stroh, once said, every problem has a solution! All you need are the correct tools to find it. Everyone has the toolbox, but very often Followers don’t have the key for the box.


Listening to Experience


For instance, if you come to me to learn to Spey Cast, there’s no might's, may or could, you “are” going to be a better fly caster and “will” understand the real key principles, end of! The reason being, I know the subject inside out. I can see straight away the faults and know how to get over them. This doesn’t come from reading a book or spending half a season on the riverbank, setting up a social media page proclaiming myself as an expert. It comes from a deep interest in the mechanics of fly-casting from an early age then spending every working day for 30 years watching people doing it. Learning how to teach from the best people and putting together a system I know to be the best. All the ducks are in line so I know the “outcome” will be positive. Go to where the ducks remain staggered and the result will be mediocre at best.


Listening to Experience with Orri Vigvusson


One of the most interesting guys I had fishing back in the late 1990s was a “Technical Analyst”. In a nutshell those guys studied graphs of company's performance, currency values, etc, to predict futures in those. an interesting guy and by all accounts, right at the top of his game.


I remember asking if there were flaws in the system? Yes, of course was the reply. It may be that the data inputted in the graph is incomplete, or those inputting it are corrupt or have other agendas. To make it work we must assume the data is correct, otherwise we cannot predict with certainty. Unforeseen outside influence also impacts on futures, bad news such as what we’re seeing this week with corona virus, will impact on a “certain” result. But if the information is as complete as it can be and free from outside influences, then yes, in 8 out of 10 cases, we can predict with reasonable certainty what’s going to happen. I’d love to write more about this really interesting subject and guy, but will leave this for my book!


I asked if he could do this with any graph. Yes, he replied. I showed him a graph of the catches of salmon and sea trout on the river Spey between 1952 and 1999 and asked what he thought. He studied them and said, there’s a “worrying” downward trend in this. I wouldn’t invest, he said. I then told him that the nets, which had accounted for many more fish stopped in 1993.  We then spoke about much more pressure of angling, explaining about the fishing becoming more commercial in the 1980s.


He asked about the record keeping itself. Had it always remained constant? I showed him graphs of Sea Trout catches for the Spey and other rivers, showing a rise in the number of fish caught in the 80s. What are the reasons for this he asked, something looks strange and don’t correlate with the other graph here? Had the method of data collection changed? The reason I ask is, this has all the hallmarks of incorrect data input. He had learned to sniff out bullshit. He knew nothing about fishing, but the spike in the graph told him something other than more fish was the main factor in the supposed increase in sea trout numbers. The simple fact of the matter was, prior to this, in the 60sand 70s, no one entered Sea Trout in their fishing books and, unlike salmon, those fishing for Sea Trout seldom logged them. Sea trout fishing was phenomenal in the 60s and 70s but very few logged their catch. Interestingly, I now see similar graphs relating to sea trout caught at this time and people gleaning completely the wrong information from them. Where at one time it would have frustrated me, now I couldn’t care less. When dealing with people from the second, or “followers”, it took me a long time to learn to accept, that, in fact, they are happy enough being second best and don’t care much for the result...... Losers and they know it.


I asked, given what you see here, what do you think the future holds for both salmon and sea trout? Remember this was 1999.


His answer was equally interesting. Both Salmon and Sea Trout will continue to decline. Your job now will change too. It will be come related to managing that decline.


Interestingly, Catch and release was just around the corner and had become an inevitable part of this.  A proper culling of Goosanders, another obvious “outside influence”, was something managers should have linked to the decline as almost every experienced Ghillie in Scotland had told them. If the information provided by those on the river had been listened to at the time, then the decline would have slowed, and things would have been much better today. Unfortunately, like so many things in this country we wait till the horse has bolted before doing anything. Many things have influenced this decline and, given the importance of Salmon to communities, the lack of physical help or support, actually, has been quite staggering. All because we don’t have the ducks lined up. 1. The data we have is poor, questionable and incomplete.

2. We chose to ignore the decline when it was staring us right in the face. 3. We failed to use the expertise and available advice because of miss trust, ignorance and arrogance.

If I hire him, I don’t ask the Technical Analyst what “exactly” it is he sees when he miss-trusts the look of the graph. Nor do I have my Physio explain “exactly” what is happening to each muscle set when I work them in a certain way. To be a leader, all I need is to have faith in those with the expertise and the best information available.  For those happy following and second best, don’t be overly surprised when things fail to turn out as you would have hoped or expected.

As I sit here with my knee getting better, I ponder at how the rivers of Scotland are performing and have performed over the past 20 years and think, what if!

Really, it’s about time we got all the ducks lined up!


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