The Mexican Fisherman

The American investment banker 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 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 American 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 American 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 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."

The American scoffed.  "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you.  You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, 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 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 how long will this take?"

To which the American replied, "Fifteen to twenty years."

"But what then?"

The American laughed and said that's the best part.  "When the time is right, you would announce and IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich; you would make millions."

"Millions?" asked the fisherman.  "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 evening, sip wine, and play guitar with your amigos!" - Author Unknown

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This story was featured in Erin Loechner's new book Chasing Slow and it is something that has stuck with me since i finished reading it.  As an American, I seem to be hard-wired to believe that we have to make millions of dollars, and I have to make it RIGHT NOW.  Recently I've been feeling like there is so much noise out there that it is beginning to drown out my own voice.

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I've never been the person that needed to be a millionaire or to become an overnight success.  But then suddenly I became an entrepreneur who needed to make money in order to continue on with my business and the noise took over.  I was reading all of the "Learn how to make 5 figures by lunchtime" blog posts and e-books.  I was taking courses that I thought would make Holl & Lane an overnight sensation.  And I was essentially driving myself nuts because I wasn't suddenly a millionaire - when I didn't even want to be one in the first place!  

It all came to a head at the end of the year when I felt broken and lost and unsure of how to move forward.  I was stuck in a pattern of feeling like nothing I was doing was good enough, like everything I had built to this point was a waste of time.  So I finally sat down and took stock of why I was feeling that way.  It was easy to figure out - it was the noise.

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With a renewed sense of focus for the year, I've been putting on my metaphorical earmuffs and tuning out the noise.  I'm listening closer and harder to the voice inside of myself.  I'm remembering that it's so much more important to me to be happy than it is to be rich.  I want to wake up and enjoy what I'm doing for a living.  I don't want to wake up and wonder how much I made overnight.

Money is a necessary evil to make a business thrive, but it doesn't have to steal joy.  So now when I hear the noise coming at me in a tidal wave, I think back to this story and the Mexican Fisherman and I ask "then what?"