Just enough fish

I’m reading a book called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

It was given to me by a colleague at work.

It’s a business book — one of those “how to succeed” manuals that I, at first, scoffed at. As I dived in; however, I formulated a different view. The author, Marshall Goldsmith, is an “executive coach” who is paid to instruct very (by worldly standards) “successful” people on their fatal interpersonal flaws. He teaches them to show gratitude. To ask for forgiveness. To listen. To think outside of themselves. And after reading a good chunk of the book, I’ve grown to accept the advice as so much more than “how to be a good executive.” Turns out the same principals apply to “how to be a good person.” A good spouse. A good parent. A good friend.

As I’ve dug deeper into the book, I’ve learned that Goldsmith is also a devout Buddhist who leverages much of his Faith teachings for his business training. And I – a strong Catholic – saw many of the principals as teachings of my own faith, teachings that Jesus shared as to how to be a strong leader — and at other times, how to be a wise follower.

I was sharing an excerpt of the book that I especially enjoyed with my husband last night — a story where Marshall asked one of his clients, a Wallstreet business man, why he worked so hard. He answered that he was divorcing his third wife — and alimony is expensive. Marshall responded, “Why are you getting divorced for the third time?”

The man paused and answered: “None of them understood how hard you have to work to make this kind of money.”

I chuckled at the irony as I retold the story — one that seems so ubiquitous in our money-hungry culture — when Matt reminded me of an equally engaging tale from The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. I thought you would enjoy:

An American consultant was at a pier in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin 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 consultant then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked the Mexican how he spent the rest of his time.

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take 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 American consultant scoffed, “I am a business consultant 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 NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American consultant replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, señor?” asked the fisherman.

The consultant 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. You’ll become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions, señor?” replied the Mexican. “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 siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

If only we could all know when we have just enough fish.

“For I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.” Philippians 4:11

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