The Mexican Fisherman
It’s an honor to share one of my favorite parables with you today. This short story has spoken to me many times in unique ways throughout my life.
Here we go!
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.”
What a powerful message.
There are so many takeaways from a parable like this. I did a lot of personal journaling after reading this, and I have summarized those thoughts to share with you.
Make sure you analyze what’s truly important to you in life. Not the life other people want, but the life you want. Write a mission statement, write a life plan, heck, even just write a sentence about what matters most in your life.
The only true definition of success is the one in which you create for yourself. Success is different for all of us. Our society tends to confuse the difference between financial success and life success. Too often, we label someone as successful based solely on their financial status. Too often we judge success based on money instead of values. Despite this flaw in our society I urge you, and myself, to not fall victim to this misguided approach. Money is important, don’t get me wrong, but money can be lost or taken away at any time. A firm value system, your happiness, your optimism, and your mission in life, can only be taken away with your consent.
Live with purpose, live intentionally.
Make today an awesome day,
“A rising tide lifts all boats.” JFK
Have you ever experienced that person who enters the room and the room just lifts up?
Of course you have, we all have. Unfortunately, we also have all experienced that person that enters the room and the room just sinks, right? See, our energy is contagious. Every single day we have a choice to brighten the world with positivity or darken it with negativity.
The book Positive Dog by Jon Gordon is a really fun, quick read about positivity. I love this quote from the book, “Too often we wait for something in life to make us smile. We wait until we feel positive and a smile happens. But you don’t have to wait to feel positive enough for a smile to happen. You can generate a positive feeling by smiling. Your smile can be the source of your positivity, not the result of it.”
I love that! Don’t wait for a reason to smile, smile for no reason. Research shows that when we smile often (in a genuine way) our brain produces more serotonin. Serotonin is our happiness hormone. Antidepressant drugs are basically serotonin boosters, so genuinely smiling often is like taking a free antidepressant.
How awesome is that!
By smiling often, we also become the rising tide that lifts all boats. If you walk by a random person and give them a big genuine smile, what happens most of the time? They smile back! It’s a natural human response. Social psychologists call this the law of reciprocity.
Positive attitudes are contagious. And the cool thing is, we can be the ones that decide to spread it.
A rising tide lifts all boats. Remember that, and decide to be that rising tide today that lifts everyone around you.
Make today an awesome day,
The Boy and the Starfish
This is a beautiful parable about how little things make a big difference.
Once upon a time, a man was walking on the beach after a big storm. The storm had covered the shore with washed up starfish. The man noticed a young boy picking up some of the starfish and throwing them back into the sea.
He asked the boy why he was throwing the starfish into the sea.
The boy replied, “The tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll dry up and die.”
The man smiled patronizingly and said, “But, there are miles of beach and thousands of starfish on every mile. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The boy smiled, bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the sea.
“Well,” he said, “I made a difference for that one.”
Making a Difference
See, most of us view making a difference as some grand abstract philosophical thought, or we think about massive social issues like curing cancer, or world hunger, and we just get overwhelmed and therefore think we can’t possibly make a difference.
Positive change actually occurs every day by the people we touch and the relationships we have.
It’s difficult to measure our impact on this world. We may never know how many people we have influenced by simply smiling when they needed to see a smile, hugging a friend at just the right time, or by being empathetic when someone makes a mistake.
It’s all the little things that we do that make a huge difference in this world. You may not be able to change the entire world, but you can change a small part of it, for someone.
If you were to honestly assess your life, do your actions, not your intentions, but your actions, relate more towards the boy or the man walking?
Do you view positive change as hopeless, or do you take personal responsibility to make a difference in any way possible?
Change doesn’t need to be huge. You make a difference in this world just by smiling more. You make a difference by bringing your best to this world one day and one relationship at a time.
Positivity just like negativity is contagious. Your positivity is not trivial. By being a positive person, you are not only changing your world, but also impacting the world around you for the better.
Remember, you are making a difference in this world whether you intend to or not. Be a force for positive change by impacting as many people as you can through positive behavior.
Make it an awesome day,