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A Life Lesson in a Short Story

By on Apr 21, 2013 in Inspiration | 0 comments

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mexican-story

 

“A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“Well, then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take siestas with your wife, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

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This is a famous story re-told in many different ways but with the same point. The Mexican villager is already living the life he wants, in a good location with his family. He gets to leisurely wake up whenever he wants and has plenty of time to spend with his children and wife. He has good friends and spends many evenings enjoying their company, drinking, and having a good time.

The American in this story looks for ways that the Mexican can exploit his job to his fullest potential by scaling it up — catching more fish and selling the extra, building an empire,  hiring people to run his business. But in the end of the story, the Mexican ends up exactly where he was before he started this business.

This story begs the question, what is really important to you in life? Even with all the money in the world, the only real things that matter are your family, friends, and how you spend your time. It gives a great perspective on life and makes you ask yourself, is this culture of money-hungry, greed-driven, paper-chasing, materialistic mentality, etc. – is this what life is about? No, of course not.

What do you think about this story?

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