We think Mr. Luke Billings is a pretty neat guy. You should get to know him too...
A few years back, a newbie in and older black Ford F-150 with Helena, Montana license plates rolled into the lodge with a chill vibe and a listening ear. Luke's laid-back yet hard-working attitude meshes well with most folks, but couple this with an eagerness to learn, a willingness to listen, and a constantly self-improving attitude, and you've got the basic makings of someone who makes a great friend. Luke and I, well, we get along...easily.
Luke is getting some grit and season under his belt in terms of the guide world. However, and in absolute no disrespect to him at all, he'll probably forever be referred to as "Rook" for no good reason. Sorry, Luke. It just is.
Yukie! (We call him this per our buddy Cory Streett's young daughter). Thanks a ton for answering some questions for us.
What’s your name?
How long have you been fly fishing?
I have been fly fishing since I was 8 so 19 years.
Do you guide? If so, How does that fit into your lifestyle?
Yes I am a guide In Dillon, MT. I feel like it has changed my lifestyle, honestly. At first it felt very much out of my comfort zone and pushed me to grow and change. Now I feel a whole new level of comfort on the river and outdoors in general.
Tell us about other outdoor activities you enjoy.
I like playing any and all kinds of sports, hiking, hunting. Anything that is outside and gets me to knew places with new experiences is always exciting.
What does “living a downstream lifestyle” mean to you?
I think downstream is a lot about getting out and enjoying where you are at and the opportunities that are afforded to you. I am so lucky to live where I do and have the ability to explore it. I also think there is an excitement to the unknown of going out on the river or when you're out hunting, you never know whats around the corner.
How does the “downstream lifestyle” fit into your daily life?
I think it fits in with the idea that when you're pushing to the best you can it opens up doors to different opportunities filled with unknowns. You have to push past your comfort zone to find out more about yourself. That, in many respects, is the same as walking out in the woods not sure what will be behind the next hill or on the river and around the next bend. Being able to adapt on the fly is an important quality in outdoor adventures and in everyday life.
How do fishing and your other outdoor activities (from question 4) fit into living life “downstream.”
Well without those activities I wouldn't have an appreciation for the downstream lifestyle. I think those activities force you to slow down and observe, which doesn't happen very often in the day to day life. So I would say those activities go hand in hand with living downstream.
What do you think of when you think of the Downstream Adventurewear brand?
Honestly, I think of the guy running it (Nic Jovanovich) and who he is and what he represents. Looking to enjoy the little things that most people would overlook and finding a way to help everyone see those same little things. He is kind, caring and compassionate, with the interest of seeing other people do well. When you're objective is to see other people succeed, I think everyone wins.
You’ve just finished college, you’re pursuing further accreditation, and figuring out the “post-school-life.” What’s your perspective on how/where you thought life would be at this moment, how it actually feels now that you’ve crossed the college-grad threshold, and how you see the near future going? How do the outdoors play into your future vision?
When I was in college I was lucky enough to get a scholarship position at the University of Montana Western as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the men's basketball team. So the dream was to build off of that and pursue a position at a university as a strength and conditioning coach while attending grad school. That dream quickly changed with a growing passion for Crossfit and how it has the power to change peoples lives. I am still in the process of getting on the Crossfit Level 1 seminar staff. I also find that I enjoy working with the general public and like minded people just as much if not more than the athletes. Honestly, after I switched gears towards Crossfit full-time (Crossfit has now been a part of my life for 5 1/2 years), I quickly decided I wanted to make a final push to compete at a high level. I had a job as a coach and was training and focused fully on Crossfit 24/7. This made life very day to day and focused on the training and coaching. The long-term plans were still in place and the hard work everyday was in line with those plans. Now, not working at the gym anymore and being forced to change gears, I'm getting ready for another guide season while figuring out how to still pursue my dreams of coaching Crossfit AND competing at a high level. My end goal is to coach and to facilitate the discovery of peoples' best self. The outdoors have always been a part of my life and will always be a part of my life. Its been a place to learn, play and form strong bonds with friends and family. When you spend so many good times with people you care about out there, those places are given meaning and will always be a place to feel at home.
With living a “downstream lifestyle,” alignment is a subject that pops up a lot. Give us some perspective on Luke’s version of alignment and staying there...mindset...development...etc.
If I have anything to say about alignment and how it is captured and maintained, it is through consistency. I feel like I know this because I am constantly failing at it. Working towards feeling aligned and having a strong mindset is a never ending journey of failure and can be constantly improved. This ties into guiding quite nicely... the second you think, "I have this figured out", you're in trouble! Failure is our best teacher and when you take the time to humbly asses what it is you failed at and how you can improve, you will make progress, which is a painful process a lot of the time. Another step in that process is eliminating the bad feeling associated with failure. That, in a lot of ways, is the key. It is a freeing feeling and allows you to make mistakes with the only consequence being that you learned something. I think ultimately if I consistently push myself physically, mentally and emotionally, I'm headed in the right direction.
Who do you consider a hero? Outdoors-person or otherwise.
I have two people that I look up to and try to emulate: Ben Bergeron and David Goggins. They are both really big on mindset and how to better deal with the ups and downs of life. You can't go around avoiding scary things so why not learn how better to approach and deal with them.
Awesome stuff, buddy. Thanks a ton for your time and insight.
Hope you all enjoyed getting a little peek into the life of Luke. Until next time!