What's Important In Life? The Story of the Mexican Fisherman...

By Sukh Singh, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

Have you ever felt as though you're living to work? Getting up day in, day out, for that elusive time in your life, years down the line when you'll finally get to relax??

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our work that we forget to enjoy the little things in life. To stop and appreciate what we have, and to value the people close to us.

This is a story about that very thing...

The Fisherman and the Businessman

An American investment banker was 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 and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas 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.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Now, this isn't a story about going fishing and not working! This is about making the most of life! It's fine to build big businesses and spend your life creating value - in fact that's what human beings are made for! But if you're not enjoying the experience of what you're doing, if you're constantly suffering through your work for a better future, then what kind of life are we living?

As Abraham Lincoln once said,

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."


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