Stories are a great way to reflect. They make us think, they make us laugh, they make us cry, and the best ones can move our emotions. I read this story in the Coaching and Leadership Journal by my friend Dan Spainhour. This is a monthly leadership journal sent directly to you hardcopy and via email from the leadership publishing team. Dan was kind enough to offer #ELBlog readers a 20% discount by using the code MAROTTA20. I hope you enjoy the story and I hope it makes you reflect on what’s really important in your life. During this time of the #CoronaVirus, I believe this story put things in perspective about your family, time, and slowing things down. Continue to go out and do great work in your schools and communities.
The Fisherman and the Businessman.
Coaching and Leadership Journal, January 2020
A stressed-out American businessman’s doctor strongly suggested he take a vacation. Heeding his doctor’s advice he decided to go far away and went to a small coastal village in Portugal. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large fin tuna. The American complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked, “Only a little while,” the fisherman replied in surprisingly good English.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?’ the American then asked. “I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends.” the fisherman said as he unloaded them into a basket.
“But…What do you do with the rest of your time?” The Portuguese man looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends. I have a full and busy life.
The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I have an M.B.A. from Harvard and I can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.” He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You could then leave this small fishing village, of course, and move to a bigger city then I can get you to Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City. Once there you could run your expanded enterprise with proper management.”
The fisherman asked, “But, sir, how long will all this take?” To which the American replied, “Fifteen to twenty years, twenty-five tops.”
“But what then, sir?” The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions sir? Then what?”
“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, visit your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll into the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your friends.”
What can we learn from this story? Many things! For instance, the time is now. Find work you enjoy now instead of working a job you hate and enduring a stressful life just so you might find joy in 20 years. It has to start now. That doesn’t mean everything has to change immediately, but start building joy into your life today. You deserve that. You cannot put a price on a happy life – not even a million dollars. Another lesson is that smarter isn’t always wiser. Catching more fish and growing the business was very logical advice, but offered little wisdom. We are a generation bloated with information and starved for wisdom. And finally, advice is nice, but intuition is better. The Harvard grad had plenty of advice, and we are faced with an endless amount of advice on a daily basis, but it’s ok to want what you want. Read, research and listen to advice, and then do what you know will be best for your own life.