April 2021 News/Columns

Waypoints: Success, by Geremy Olson

This is the ONE picture of my ONE fish I caught on my very first trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.


Waypoints: Success

The key to success is failure and learning how not to repeat our failures.

by Geremy Olson

WayPoint: When you start with good intentions you have no need to follow through and people are left waiting for you to keep your word. When you act, your integrity holds you to your word and lives are changed.


“I’ve made a mistake.”

Now, let’s say it together, “I’ve made a mistake”.

If you don’t think you have, ask your fishing buddies. They’re usually honest, but if not, ask any of the women in your life. I know your mom probably has a list.

What’s funny is when we plan a fishing trip, we plan for only success in mind. I will never forget my first trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in northern Minnesota. Almost a year before the trip began, we had to figure out what permits were needed, what lake to travel, what equipment to bring and training to do with the participants. Like most anglers I spent a majority of my planning on fishing.

After all the planning for an epic week of fishing, I caught one very small crappie. I was severely unprepared for that trip as far as fishing was concerned. Without that failure I would have never taken the time to do all the research I needed to catch fish the next time I went. I was serious, I even read a book…that didn’t have hardly any pictures! That’s a lot for a dyslexic kid!

Almost 20 years after my first trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, I enjoy watching my kids make a lot of the same mistakes that I did as they learn and grow in the outdoors.

The last three falls have been full of fishing failures for me. For the previous ten years I’ve been out on fire assignments so I haven’t been able to fish in my home state of North Dakota during the fall. When I came home from fire assignments over the last couple of years there was a gambit of youth hunting seasons to take advantage of with my kids. So needless to say, I am underprepared for fall fishing in North Dakota and I make that part of my plan. Yep, failure is part of my plan.

It changes your mindset on life when you know and accept the fact you are going to fail. When we expect to only succeed, we tend to get really moody, say things we shouldn’t, hurt those with and around us and it’s not good. Accept and understand that failure is part of life, we get the opportunity to laugh about our failures.

Example, you know one we can all understand: I would be willing to bet that everyone reading this has left a plug out of the boat and got wet. Everyone who’s done this has put into effect stringent checks and rechecks to make sure you are not that guy at the boat ramp ever again. It’s how we learn. Especially when you get a new boat or you’re helping with someone else’s boat and you put the plug in the wrong hole! It’s how we learn.

Another important part of learning from failure is teaching and allowing those around us that it’s okay to fail. Some of you are saying to yourself, there are things you can’t fail at and you are right. Those are the things that we need to take on ourselves and put others in situations that their failure leads to learning, not harm. Responsibility comes from experience not age. Experience comes with learning from failure.

I’ve learned more about fish because of the days I didn’t catch any than I ever have on the days I’m catching fish. Getting back to the BWCA, after learning from my failures on the first three trips, I got to a point where I could always have fish for supper even if the weather was bad.  Life is no different. We need to embrace our failures, learn from them and make the needed changes to not repeat them. This way you avoid hurting those around you, make friends that you can learn from and meet others who you can teach to avoid the mistakes you have made.

The key to success is failure and learning how not to repeat our failures.

 (Geremy Olson grew up in the outdoors. After being burned as a volunteer firefighter, he had to figure out how to teach outdoor skills to his children from a wheelchair while learning to walk. Today he is an inspirational speaker, Fellowship of Christian Athletes North Dakota Coordinator, ND AIM Tournament Director, Outdoorsman, Producer, Wildfire Consultant & Public Speaker (GOspeaks.live) He is also the proud father of the owners of Missouri Secrets Tackle.)

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