Wait but why? For what purpose? Below is one of the greatest and most eloquent reminders to enjoy the process and perpetually ask yourself, “To what end?” If you’re solely focused on the future, with no appreciation for the present, you’re all success and no happiness. If you’re fully present with no regard for the future ever, you’re all happiness and no success. Life is a rigorous balancing act, and if you’re anything like me, you lack the latter – overemphasizing the future at the expense of your happiness and presence.
Don’t get swept away in the American mania. Delayed gratification in pursuit of a worthwhile goal is noble. Grinding yourself to the bone and transmuting yourself into a miserable wreck as you chase (probably) someone else’s dream is not.
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” – Jerzy Gregorek
Enjoy this short story and use it to add awareness to your direction, purported destination, and how you are managing the process.
The Story of the Mexican Fisherman
An American businessman was standing 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.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “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, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and 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 consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. 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 NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “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…”
Yesterday I got off a two-hour sales call that should’ve ended in half the time, and he didn’t purchase, meaning I lost and utterly wasted my time. But did I? In fact, I chose to keep the call going, knowing fairly well he was dead-on-arrival, because I was truly enjoying the process (/and his amusing squirrely ass). If you’re doing the right things in aggregate, why fret about the micro setbacks and self-perceived losses?
Easier said than done, but why not try to build this mindset? Even if you don’t give a damn about presence and happiness, and really only care about accomplishing your goals, this will still help you – high energy, optimistic people are more effective at life (don’t just take my word for it, read The Magic of Thinking Big).
Once you’ve rationalized that you will reach your end destination, if there is such a thing, you’re liberated to freely layer in mindfulness and appreciation along the way.
Find you motivator and make it happen. Mine is health. Gratitude and daily mindfulness = better health. The fact that it also allows me to be more productive and effective is simply a welcomed additional perk.
What’s your fish IPO and how are you faring in the process?
P.S. Though you’ve likely seen this, a highly recommend complement to The Story of the Mexican Fisherman: Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen