Stinky Fish NEVER smell better with time
What is Stinky Fish
So let me explain the concept of the stinky fish for you. And so the stinky fish, can just picture this picture, this, imagine you own a car, right? Whether you own a car, you don’t imagine you own a car. Somebody was in your car, there were sitting in your passenger seat and you bought a raw fish. For whatever reason you were going to cook it. They left it on the Florida slid under your seat, it’s there. And you want to get it out as soon as possible, because if you don’t get it out, it’s not going to smell better at the time. But for whatever reason you forget, or you’re just like, Oh, I’ll get it later. And it starts to stink more and stink more and it’s under the seat. And the easiest thing you can do is remove it. But for whatever reason you don’t. And so it tends to stinks up the car, then it smells like fish. Then it becomes permanent. Eventually it ruins your entire car. And so we would never leave a stinky fish underneath the seat of our car, because the one thing we have learned about stinky fish is they never smell better with time. And so that gives us this concept of stinky fish.
Now, what I’m about to share with you, is one of the most powerful tools for ourselves and for our teams. And for those people that support us, whether it’s our coaches, teachers, or whatever, to help us all get to the equal playing field. And in theory, what you’re doing is you’re throwing your stinky fish on the table, but you’re really removing it from underneath the seat of the car. So everything smells better with time. And so when we think about the stinky fish is that thing that you carry. But don’t like to talk about, but the longer you hide it, the stinkier it gets, it’s a metaphor. It could be fear, anxiety, something will only, that will only get worse if you don’t acknowledge it and deal with it.
And in entrepreneurship, I see this all the time. It’s Oh, I have this pending bail. If I no more. And it’ll somehow pay itself rather than picking up the phone and renegotiating the terms or I know my customers, aren’t getting the emails they’re supposed to, but I’ll do it next week. I’ll do it next week. But then as that continues, there’s more and more customers not getting it. And the problem’s getting worse. The fish is getting extinct here, or I have conflict with my team. And I don’t know how to resolve it. So I’m just going to pretend it’s not there. And then it eventually it’ll go away, but it never does. Every one of those situations and circumstances ends up escalating to a point where it becomes a problem and it has stunk so bad that it ruins the entire inside of the car. Rather than the moment we realized there’s a fish underneath the seat metaphorically, we bring it up to the surface. And we get rid of it.
Stinky fish end up driving our vehicle as entrepreneurs. And so we will know we’ll have our team going, we’ll know something’s coming up for us. It could be fear could be anxiety, could be the unknown and we won’t acknowledge it, but then it will end up driving our decisions, actually creating that fear. As a real result. And it gets in the way of everything because we can’t be focused because have that stinky fish in the back of our mind pulling us back. So we’re never fully into the goal setting. We’re never fully into the planning. We’re never fully into the marketing, into the team lead into anything because it’s this nagging little thing in the back of our head, that’s getting stinkier and stinkier until it’s all consuming. And so no matter what we have to process it out.
Now, I want you to understand that in my opinion, the secret to success in life, in relationships, in business, in any endeavor that you partake in the secret to success always boils down to awareness. That’s it because if you know where you are, maybe why you’re there, you can choose where you go. The enemy of success is unawareness. And I don’t even know what that word is, but I’m just going to call it unawareness. And that’s where these things like our stinky fish are driving our vehicles every day. We think we’re making a decision based out of abundance and clarity and excitement and, goal setting and good sound business principles. But what we failed to miss is that there was this stinky fish underneath the seat being like, you can’t really do that, or you don’t have the money for that, or, Oh, don’t trust your gut. Nobody’s done that before and it’s nagging and nagging us. And so we’re never really fully aware of where we are, which means we can never fully take a confidence step in a different direction because there’s that lack of clarity that ambiguity.
Stinky fish exercise
I think everybody needs to do a stinky fish exercise with themselves. And then I think every team and I don’t care if you’re a team of two, a team of 10 or a team of 100, need to do this together to level the playing field, get everybody on the same page to understand each other at a core visceral team level to normalize what a lot of us is, and to breed open communication, to breed authenticity, to breed relationships, which are the secret to all of this working. And so the stinky fish is the metaphor for that thing that you carry around that you don’t like to talk about. And so the purpose of this exercise is to explore, become aware, or share our individual concerns or worries about anything. Our business, our life, anything in general that tables it into the present so we can see all the ingredients in front of us. And then we can make a decision on how to mitigate it.
So to do this exercise, you just need a big piece of paper, like a blank piece of paper, eight and a half by 11, a notebook sheet, anything. And then I want you to draw. And I will say this I’ll call myself. I can’t draw. So stick figures are about the limit of my creativity, but I want you to draw the best stick figure fish ever. And so make it look like a goldfish, make it look like whatever you want, but just on a piece of paper, I want you to draw a fish. And make sure that the body of the fish is big enough that you can write it. And so I call this a stinky fish, so you can give it snaggle teeth. You can give it googly eyes, you can do whatever you want to it. You can make it permeate, little lines of smelling on top of it. But I just want you to understand that what you’re drawing on this piece of paper is a visual representation of a stinky fish.
And so the first thing I want you to do is I want you to draw that on a piece of paper. And then I want you to think about this. I want you to think about where you are currently right now in your life, in your business. You could have things in your business that aren’t ideal, but they are affected or informed by your life, right? Like maybe you’ve been exhausted at work and you’re afraid you’ll never get out of it, but yet you still haven’t changed anything to start working out or eat clean. And only, and so I’m going to give you an example. My stinky fish for 2021 is expectation. And so what I want you to do is I want you to start thinking about leading into 2021. What is that one conversation that you haven’t been having? What is that one thing that you haven’t talked about? What’s that one thing that always gets moved down your to-do list? What’s the one habit that you’re scared to do, it’s the path forward? What is that one conversation that, when you have it, you’re going to have resolution, like you need to do an audit and check in with yourself and ask yourself. What is that stinky fish that I have? What is that thing hiding underneath my seat right now that if I don’t remove it will end up ruining my entire car?
I want you to sit down. I want you to ask yourself that question and I just want you to start a timer. And when you start that timer, I want you to write or think or reflect for five minutes and all I want you to put inside that stinky fish. All I want you to write down in that stinky fish is everything that you’re committed to letting go of for everything that you’re removing from underneath the seat. So it no longer stinks anymore. You can be as clear, precise detailed or ambiguous as possible, as long as you understand what it represents now. The more clarity you have, the better, because if you are crystal clear on it, it means you’ve done the diligence to understand it, and you can let it go. But if you just write, Oh, I’m letting go of fear. That doesn’t help me. I need specificity. I’m letting go of fear of holding meetings with my team. Which then the inverse means when you let that go, you will then start planning meetings with your team, whether they’re scheduled, weeks in advance or whatever, but you have to then let it go. And so what I want you to do is spend five minutes writing it down, and I want you to review it when you’re done. And I want you to look at it. And I want you to agree with yourself that these are all the things that I’m letting go of these are all the things that I’m letting go of, and then you get to choose your modality for releasing it.
And so when I do this at my event, I have everybody do this and then I have them share what their stinky fishes. And I ask them a simple question. Once they’re done sharing their stinky fish, I asked them, I said, are you willing to leave it here? And let me throw it out. And they say yes. And if they say yes, then they go hanging on the wall and hanging it on the wall is a representation of them leaving it in the room with me. And I will discard it. I will trash it, but they have to leave it here. They have to leave that fear. They have to leave that stinky fish and they can’t try to drag it with them and hide it in their luggage to bring it home. And so for you, you get to figure out how you do that. If you look at that and you’re like, yes, I’m a hundred percent committed to leaving this because it doesn’t belong in my life. It doesn’t belong in my business. It doesn’t belong anywhere. And it doesn’t serve me to have you make that distinction. You figure out the best way to let it go. Personally, what I do is I write it and then I say, I’m letting this go by hanging this on my wall. I’m letting this go. So I put it on the board next to me and I can see it in everything that I do. I can see it when I’m working at my desk. And it’s just a reminder that I let it go, that it let it go. And if that feeling comes up for me again, I simply look to my left and I see it. I’m like, Oh, I committed to letting that go. And I lean into the feeling. I lean into the fear and I do something different.
Some of the other things you can do, if it’s, you really want to visceral experience, I want you to treat it like a ceremony. I want you to write that thing. I want you to write it and wanting to honor it. I want to set time on your counter. I want you to go burn it. Or I want you to see it in an envelope and bury it, or I want you to do something that has you physically remove it and commit to removing that stinky fish from your life. You could crumple it up and step on it. You could do whatever you want to do, but I recommend that you do a stinky fish for yourself. And then you choose who you share with your team, share with your partner, share with your significant other, share with your coaches, and then do one together as a team, right? Whether you have a team of one team, a two team of five, can you imagine the level of depth and understanding and human connection that comes from everybody knowing that it’s normal to feel this way. It’s normal that these things come up and it’s in a safe container that we can talk about them in process. That mean then can you imagine what clarity comes? What happens when you unlock your true potential of yourself and your team and all those different pieces? I want you to do this, thinking about it doesn’t work. There’s the reason like the amazing Benjamin Hardy and Nicola para the holistic psychologist. Talk about future self journaling, and they talk about writing. They talk about actually acting out and building our future self of releasing things. But you can’t, out-think the thing that you’re thinking about. You can’t think of stinky fish out from under your seat, no matter what, unless you go physically move it, it’s still going to be stuck underneath your seat.
And so remember the purpose of the stinky fish is to go through the process of physically removing that nasty smelling fish from underneath your seat, cleaning it out so you can have a clean vehicle. And so stinky fish never smell better with time ever. If you put a fresh fish under that seat, two weeks later, you’re not going to like how it smells three weeks later. You’re definitely not four weeks later. Your car is going to rot from the inside out. And so it’s one of those things that you have to presence and what it’s going to help you with that helps me with. And helps me understand that there’s always going to be times of change and uncertainty and ambiguity, because none of us can predict the future. But what we can predict is the inputs that go into our process that creates the future. And every moment that you work towards awareness and having a clear play and you’re speaking and clearing and letting go of these fears and this craziness that’s made between those two ears of ours, the faster path you’re on to putting in the right inputs into the present moment to create the future.