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,


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