the businessman vs. the fisherman or; losing sight of what really matters


A businessman 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 businessman 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 businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman 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 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, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I 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 and eventually open 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 would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman 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, señor? Then what?” The businessman 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 a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

-Author Unknown

So many people fall into this trap. I thought only those who were blind to the peril would be foolish enough to act like the businessman, but yesterday I realized that was wrong. I myself had fallen prey to the desire to expand and make money. I came into blogging for fun. I still blog for fun; it’s what I think about most, it’s what I want to do in my spare time, it’s what I see in my future. I’ve always thought it would be nice to make money from it, but that wasn’t why I started blogging.

Recently I’ve become very obsessed with monetizing my blog; making it a breadwinner for myself so I could have time to do all the things I want to do. It’s funny, because it’s just like the businessman and the fisherman. All the schemes I’m reading about or researching involve a lot of time and effort invested in things I don’t care to do, and all for what? Making more money. So I can do what? Blog more, right? If I had all the free time in the world, what would actually change? Sure, I could do a few things I can’t now, maybe travel more, but for the most part, my life would be the same. I’d blog a lot, read a lot, learn languages and eat out a lot. Those are the things I love to do. The environment might change, but my habits won’t.

I have to remember to quit falling into the pit of feeling like I’m missing out without money. I need to quit looking at those mind-boggling success stories and feel like I’m doing something wrong if I’m not the same. I need to remember what I enjoy doing and do more of it. That’s the mark of a successful life. Being with people you love, taking siestas, and doing what you enjoy.

I gotta make my inner businessman shut up and listen to the fisherman. Seems like fishermen always get it right, eh?


5 thoughts on “the businessman vs. the fisherman or; losing sight of what really matters

  1. My Crazy NY Post-Grad Life says:

    So well written. This is great – I really enjoyed this post! Everyone needs to read this post. Seriously! Especially in the US, where people get wayyy too wrapped up in this stuff.

    Thank you for writing!

    <3, Charlotte

    • Thanks! I can’t take credit for the story – it’s so amazing, such a “Well, duh!” moment, but also, “Wow….” :P I agree that everyone should read it. Seriously, it’s sad how many people are caught up in this. Makes me sad that people lay aside dreams to follow after money making.

  2. This. is. perfect. This is precisely why I don’t write books that are supposed to “sell,” or look for a “better” job that will pay more, but I write what I want and stay where I’m happy and have just enough to help my family out, plus a little extra for travels and fun things. :) A lot of people don’t understand.
    “Why don’t you go to college?”
    “Why would I go to college?”
    “To get a good education so you can get a good job.”
    “I have a good job.”
    “But one that pays more!”
    “What do I need more money for?”
    “To pay for your education that allowed you to get a better paying job so you can someday retire and travel.”
    “I already travel. I don’t owe anything on student loans, so I can buy the books I want to read, pay for trips I want to take, and still have enough to help my family out.”
    “Don’t you want a career?”
    “Getting married will be my career.”
    *horrified looks and walking away*
    I’ve had this conversation time and time again. They just don’t get it. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’re falling into the businessman trap. Plenty of people attend college in pursuit of careers they do have a heart to follow. It just so happens I found my path without that additional academic experience. Nothin’ wrong with that!

    • Go you! I’m happy you feel that way and have found what you want without college. I actually wish I didn’t need to go, but if I want to teach in a public school in Korea, I have to have a degree. I don’t mind so much, but I’m hoping that one day a degree won’t be just a golden ticket, and that employers will look beyond that and try to determine character and aptitude, not the ability to stick through a terrible education.

      • I would like that! I mean, there are obvious vocations where degrees are important. Brain surgeons come to mind. :P But I wish it wasn’t the end-all decision-maker for hiring and promoting.

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