A few weeks ago, I chose to do something I never would have done, when I first started guiding.
I made a point to accept an invitation from one of my local competitors to go fly fishing together. In the past, I would have passed the invitation up, thinking the competitor was trying to learn secrets of mine, or worse, had a hidden agenda aimed at harming my business, but that wasn’t the case at all. For a welcome change, we set aside all the nonsense of us worrying about being competitors, and for the first time, we genuinely got to know one another. We spent the day working our way up a beautiful section of wild trout water, and we took turns fly fishing, while the other watched and told memorable guide trip stories. It turned out to be a really fun day on the water. One I’m confident I won’t forget for a very long time.
In the end, ten years of insecurities and false perceptions had been put to rest after just four hours on the water fly fishing together. We both realized that we’d done nothing positive for our businesses by black balling and avoiding each other. In fact, we agreed that we probably ended up doing more harm, since there had been plenty of times over the years when we could have helped each other out in a pinch. During my 45-minute drive back home, I reflected on the day’s events and it made me think about how much stress I could have avoided over the years guiding, if I wouldn’t have spent so much time worrying about my competitors. It’s ok every now and again to keep track of what your competitors are up to, but you should never lose sight of the most important element of your business, which is the services you’re providing to your customers.
As I pulled into my driveway, parked the truck and started to unload my gear, I thought about all the guides across the country that could capitalize on what the two of us had learned, if they to extended a couple friendly invitations of their own. You never know when you might need to depend on a fellow guide to help you out in a bind. Equipment failures happen, car keys are forgotten, and critical pieces of gear, sometimes go unpacked. If you maintain respectful working relationships with your fellow guides, there’s a much better chance they’ll come to your aid when you find yourself in need of assistance. Not only that, but think about how much better etiquette will be on the water for everyone when the atmosphere is friendly and respectful. My days of being selfish and turning a cheek to my competitors are long gone. I only wish it would have happened much earlier on in my career.
What’s your stand on this subject? It’s not just intended for guides, but for all fly anglers who share water.
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