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Monday, May 3, 2021

What Really Matters in Life? The Fisherman Parable

One of the most inspirational and touching stories I have read. This story is my inspiration to slow down, reassess, and get real about how I want to live life. It is about an encounter between an enterprising tourist and a small fisherman, in which the tourist suggests how the fisherman can improve his life. It’s a great story on balancing work and life, and the goals we hope to achieve.

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

The American Harvard MBA: How long it took you to catch them?
The Mexican Fisherman: Only a little while.

The American Harvard MBA: Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican Fisherman: I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.

The American Harvard MBA: But what do you do with the rest of your time?
The Mexican Fisherman: Responding with a smile, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American Harvard MBA: Impatiently interrupted, “Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats.”

The American Harvard MBA: Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, “Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you’ll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise.”

The Mexican Fisherman: asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
The American Harvard MBA: After a rapid mental calculation, he replied “Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard.”

The Mexican Fisherman: asked, “And then what, senor?”
The American Harvard MBA: laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

The Mexican Fisherman: asked “Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American Harvard MBA: said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos”

The moral of the story is:
Life is Simple. Know what really matters in life, and you may find that it is already much closer than you think.

The Mexican fisherman story above teaches us all too well the importance of learning how to be content with what we currently have. It is truly an art learning the meaning of “enough.”  Money often doesn’t make us happier.

So, take this day to remember that life is about balance.  Spend your time intentionally.  Don’t say “yes” to things that you are not passionate about.  Learn to say no to things that don’t excite you!

In the end, time is the true currency of life.  Not money.  Don’t ever forget that.

Go find your little coastal village, catch some fish, and teach others how to catch them, too.  That’s what this site is all about.

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1 comment:

  1. Funny how everyone seems to be reading Greg McKeown's Essentialism now. Great story - where does Lean fit?