The Snapper and the Fisherman's Trap

Bad men are out to get them.

They are hiding from the CIA in the nooks and crannies of Jamaica; harbored by a bushman—a countryman.

"What do we do?" Asks one of the fugitives, fraught.

The countryman, after taking a long pause to reflect and light his herb, tells the parable of the fish and the trap:

A snapper gets caught in a fisherman's trap. Rough weather comes and takes the trap away from the fisherman. Still, the fish is caught in the trap...

The trap continues to catch other fish, and the snapper eats and eats, until it grows so big that the trap weakens, and the fish breaks free.

 "Well it's just so you must do," says the bushman to the americans, "Hehehehehe!"




Here they are being chased by the intelligence agency of the most powerful nation in the world, and the bushman is telling them they must eat?



Eat and grow.

Stop wondering and worrying about the trap... just eat. 

The story of the snapper and the trap is a parable of personal development. The trap is analogous to the inevitable limitations we all face.

Sure, the fish is trapped, but what does the fish do? It eats and grows. It cannot swim free, but it CAN eat and wait.

So, how do WE grow in the face of limitations?

The fish in the parable does not say to itself, "I'm trapped! I'm doomed!" It doesn't loathe its existence in the trap, get depression, and die of starvation.

It does what it can: the fish eats and grows.


When Bruce Lee suffered a near career-ending back injury to his sacral nerve in 1970, he threw himself into a mode of self-evaluation and study, reading self improvement books and writing volumes of notes. He also spent many hours studying physics, biomechanics, nutrition and training theory. What emerged was an articulate and groundbreaking philosophy of martial arts, movie-making, and life. He used his limitation as an opportunity to grow in other ways. He became the snapper in the fisherman's trap.

There are countless other examples of people growing around their limitations—even better examples than the one above:

Helen Keller was born deaf and blind—she became a prolific author campaigning for women's suffrage, labor rights, socialism, antimilitarism, and other similar causes.

Frederick Douglass taught himself to read, escaped slavery, and later became one of the greatest orators in American history and a leader of the abolitionist movement.

As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but survived and went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

These people—and there are many others—are stirling examples of overcoming the odds, of breaking free of the trap by growing within their limitations. One could argue that they did not grow in spite of their limitations, but because of them.

So, what limitations are you focusing on? What is your "trap?" How can you start to shift your focus from your limitations, to opportunities for growth within those confines? How can you reframe your limitations, so that they are no longer traps, but paths to greatness???

Understand your limitations and capitalize on them.

Ok... now go eat.