Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

Words to Live by: Anecdotes and Analogies to Guide Fisheries Folks on Their Professional Journey

Jesse T. Trushenski

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch15

We learn leadership first from our families. Whoever brings us up—mothers, fathers, stepparents, grandparents, godparents, siblings, neighbors, teachers, coaches, and the rest—they are the first to show us the way. Larry and Julie Trushenski taught their child the meaning of honesty, responsibility, empathy, and the other weighty words we ascribe to leaders. But almost nothing my dad taught me of leadership came in the form of declarative statements. “We do this.” “We don’t do that.” “This is right.” “That is wrong.” That’s not how my dad talks because it’s not how his mind works. He likes analogies. No, he loves analogies. He’s also fond of sayings and anecdotes. They’re better at capturing our imaginations because they are better at capturing the essence of things. Analogies resonate in our minds because they ring true and loud in our guts.

Jan, this is a futile exercise.
Jan, you’re rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

These two statements mean the same thing, but one is a lot more likely to get Jan’s attention. The first glances dismissively your way in passing; the second grabs you by the shoulders and shakes. One implies that Jan is simply wasting her time; the other acknowledges this, but also alludes to more critically important tasks that need Jan’s attention. Analogies, anecdotes, colloquialisms, and sayings are more evocative and memorable than just words on a page. Idioms are how I understand the world around me and share my experiences and perspective with others. With that background in mind, I’d like to share a few analogies that I live by, so let’s get started…or hit the road…or get the ball rolling…or shake a leg…or…