Fishing for the Future

The following beautiful little story got introduced to me during one of the many lovely evenings with my partner, where we sit in our lounge, read books and have discussions about life, over a glass of wine and a bowl of salt & vinegar crisps. The story is from a career coaching book. I post it here mainly to have it handy if I need it in my coaching conversations. And it’s worth sharing nonetheless. Enjoy!

A tourist boat docked in a tiny picturesque village in Mexico. The harbour was a hive of activity with fishermen taking in their catch from their day on the open sea. One of the tourists, an American, got chatting to a local fisherman and complimented him on the quality of his fish. He asked him how long it took him to catch them.

‘Not very long,’ answered the fisherman.

‘But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?’ asked the tourist.

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

The tourist 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 tourist 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.’

‘And after that?’ said the fisherman.

‘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 middleman, you can then 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 new global enterprise, importing and exporting fish and other produce.’

‘How long would that take?’ asked the fisherman.

‘Twenty, perhaps 25 years,’ replied the tourist.

‘And after that?’ the fisherman asked.

‘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 what then?’

‘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 a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.’


Know where you’re going in life, you may already be there.
And know what’s important to you in life, you may already have it.