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

fisherman

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?

otter.

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know your letters

knowyourletters

No, not the alphabet. I mean the four letters that relegate you to a specific sixteenth of the population. I am talking, of course, about that infamous Briggs-Myers test, beloved by many a major corporation and psychology professor.

In my youth (*cough) and ignorance, I discarded the idea of this test as psycho-babble and drivel, useless in the real world. Then I read about it, and, uh, changed my mind. Since then, I have taken many variations of this test, and come to the conclusion that they KNOW me, man, because how else could they accurately describe my strengths and weaknesses? Maybe there’s something to this personality profile thing after all.

If you aren’t familiar with the test, there’s no better way to familiarize yourself with it than in the book itself, Gifts Differing by Isabel Briggs-Myers. It’s an incredible read, and if you can get past the many charts and statistics (I skipped them), you’ll be in for a really eye-opening description of how our personalities determine how we interact.

Why is it important? Good question. Not only will it help you learn about and appreciate the differences in people, it will help your interactions with very different people. Being an INTJ myself, I never had much use for people who made decisions (or didn’t make them – indecision blegh) based on their feelings. I use logic, and empathy or emotions weren’t all that important to me in determining things. I still prefer my method cause it’s mine, but I no longer dismiss others’ opinions as invalid.

Here in Taiwan, I live in very close quarters with one person who’s as like me as she can be, and two people who are near enough total opposites. Fortunately, our team leader had the foresight to plan meetings where we all shared our communication preferences and personality quirks, biggest pet peeves, how we unwind, and so on. It was tedious but extremely helpful. Of course, that doesn’t eliminate the pet peeves, but it does at least mean we aren’t at each other’s throats about them. I don’t have to feel guilty about wanting to get away because we’ve established that I need that to relax.

If you’re in a similar situation or on any team, really, it might be a good idea to have a meeting to share your personality quirks. Share your faults and weaknesses. Take the test and share results. See what others have to say. If you think it’s a waste of time and it doesn’t matter, you should DEFINITELY do it, cause you’re probably a jerk.

I’m an INTJ, as I said. It’s the rarest type of woman, only comprising 0.5% of the population. Male INTJs are 1.5%. I feel vastly under-represented here. I’ve had to deal with a lot because of being this way. People used to annoy me beyond belief, and I took a lot of pride in keeping myself all superior and more-logical-than-thou. It’s taken time and lots of self-digging to see how wrong that is, and how isolating. Now, I love people, and I enjoy lots of different kinds of people. I can’t live with some of them, but I can be friends.

The most important thing to remember is that you have faults. Every personality type does. Find them. Fix them. Validate everyone, and don’t look down on others just because they think and interpret differently than you. Knowing your letters does not give you an excuse for being rude in the name of “That’s just how I am.” You have faults, and once you know about them, you have the responsibility to change them.

otter.

dream burnout/disappointment

As COPs and EDs*, it’s easy for us to overload on planning. But there’s always a point where there’s just nothing left to plan. If you suffer from COP, then you’ve probably done this; planned everything a thousand ways, tweaked it endlessly, and now there’s nothing left for that dream. You’re left twiddling your thumbs, bored and aimless, until one day…BAM. Another grand idea comes along, whisking you off to Planningland. If you don’t stop yourself from planning and dreaming, you’re going to be caught in the never-ending search for the new, next-best dream, the next something to plan and dream about. And you’ll wind up at the end of your life with none of the dreams accomplished. You may even have twenty cats. (Well, that doesn’t sound half bad…) At any rate, dream burnout is easy to get. I’ve done it hundreds of times.

Here’s a piece of advice. Don’t make idols of your dreams. Dreams are wonderful, shiny, grandiose things that are called “dreams” for a reason. They don’t exist in reality in the way we think they will. They never can, because we can’t see the future. 100% of the time, they surprise us in how they turn out. Come on, you know I’m right. Nothing is perfect, and even if we plan out the flaws or dangers, reality always has something we don’t expect. Dreams can’t meet your highest expectations. If you think they will, you will set yourself up for dream disappointment.

Remember, even if you reach achieve your dream life, it won’t always be exciting and infinitely more wonderful than the life you have now. Life is mostly made up of endless days and in-between moments, not the biggest, brightest times. Think back on your happiest memories. When you were living that moment, was it as wonderful as the memory it created? I’ve discovered that often enough, a moment is better in memory than when I was living it. Mostly because I’m not thinking about how wonderful the thing is all the while I’m in it. Find time to create wonderful memories, but remember that life is never a continuous succession of adventure, and watch out for dream burnout and disappointment.

otter.

*COP – Chronic Over-Planner/Planning

ED – Excessive Dreamer/Dreaming

the next step or; like a jumper, man!

Pinned Image

Where are his eyes? On the next jump.

I have a really solid vision of what I want my future to be. I know my dream. It’s so close and tangible I can taste the kimchi.

BUT. <<there it is. There is danger. I suffer from COP and ED*. I’m in real danger of over-planning everything, writing down every single step of the way and really getting myself worked up and frustrated.

I heard some really good advice somewhere recently. Whoever it was said that instead of worrying so much and spending all your time making plans, you should focus on the next few steps. I think he said four, but I actually prefer just one. I think for a lot of people, even four is too much at one time, especially if each step is very involved or will take a lot of time.

When you focus solely and intently on just the next step, you leave yourself room for flexibility in the rest of the plan, you don’t worry as much, and that step is more likely to succeed. For me, the next step is clear; go to school and get a BA. That will take up the next two or three years of my life, and before I complete that goal, I shouldn’t worry about what comes after. Maybe six months before I graduate, I can start serious work on the step after that, but it just doesn’t make sense to plan something so far in advance. For one thing, a lot can happen during two years. Maybe I’ll get married. Maybe I’ll decide to move somewhere other than Korea. Anything could change my plans.

I used to be a jumper. As in on a horse. An Equestrian. (For whatever reason, most people don’t get that when I say “jumper.”) I jumped for two or three years, and absolutely loved it. One of the first things you learn in jumping is to only look at the next jump after you’ve cleared the first one. Once you start the course, you look only at the jump you are about to clear. Once your horse’s forefeet come off the ground, you must immediately turn your whole body and focus to the next jump.

I think this is so applicable to planning your future. Taking it one “jump” at a time and focusing your entire being on that next step means that that step is more likely to come out well.

Take advice from an equestrian and just look at one jump at a time.

(I really miss jumping.)

otter.

*COP – Chronic Over-Planner/Planning

ED – Excessive Dreamer/Dreaming

Picture via Pinterest

my current dream

spring4

A sunflower. Which has nothing to do with dreams. 

I think humans must always have a dream. (I DREAMED A DREAM IN TIME GONE BYYYYYY!!!!!) Even when we are in the midst of depressing or insufferable circumstances, I think we will tend to imagine a greater place of happiness. I knew I wouldn’t stay in Taiwan forever, but until around four months ago, I didn’t have a clear picture of where I wanted to go. I had vague, nebulous ideas, but nothing concrete. I fully believe that those who plan where they want to end up are the ones most likely to reach their destination. My dream could change; it has before, but some things have always remained the same. I want to live in Asia; I love Asian culture and I feel that it suits me. I want to work with language; either as a teacher, writer, translator or blogger. I want to create and enjoy a beautiful life.

So below is a specific outline of where I see myself in five years. (Now I can answer that pesky interview question.)

After I finish school and get my BA, I’m planning on moving to Korea and teaching English. Ideally, I’d like to teach high school or middle school. I really love getting people excited about things, and I would love to be able to go more in-depth on topics related to English, America, and Western culture. I wouldn’t really be able to do that with younger students, and I feel that college-level is a bit beyond me…

I want to build my blog and become a pro, perhaps even moving into vlogging once in Korea. I know plenty of people who live off of their blogs, and that’s been a dream of mine for a couple of years now, ever since starting TFA. But I know it takes a while, and so I need a good job in the meantime. (If nothing else, I would need some better and more expensive equipment.)

I want to build a ministry for girls. Once I move to Korea, I want to connect with a local church and start a Bible/English class for older teens. Or perhaps connect with an overseas mission project and help establish clubs where I live.

Remember my other post about living in the future? These things are what keep me floating in Tomorrowland. I have to be careful not to lose myself in dreams of a future in Korea. I have to rein myself in and buckle down to Chinese even though I really prefer Korean. It takes discipline, but I’m learning and getting better at it, and I think this acquisition of self-control will be invaluable in my later life, no matter where I end up.

So for now, I’m keeping all this in mind, but not my whole mind.

Huzzah! SUNFLOWERS! (Which, again, have nothing to do with dreams.)

otter.