A friend of mine shared this awesome story on Facebook recently, I was so moved by it, I left a really long comment (you know the type that has people thinking “if you knew so much of the subject matter why didn’t you write it yourself? LOL). Anyhow, it has played over and over again in my mind and I thought to explore the thought further and share it with you. The story goes:
“A boat is docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist is complimenting a Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asks how long it takes him to catch them.
“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.
“But 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. Then, 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. Also, 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 and successful enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years, at the most” 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 a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings drinking and playing the guitar with your friends!”
LOL! Doesn’t that just strike a chord? It did with me. It seems we enter the rat race and stay in it by default. Egged on by what our parents say we should study and then be, to make them proud. Propelled by the standards that society has set; envy and the need to compare with our so called peers, driving us further and further along a path that we haven’t stopped to ask “is this for me? What do I want? Is this path leading me to the destination I am trying to arrive at?”
When I read this story, I thought, hmm, they’ll spend 20 years becoming moguls, get their companies listed, become known worldwide. In those 20 years, their wives will no longer see them. No longer know them. Their kids that they play with, will have grown up and left home- not seeing daddy and learning daddy’s values but enjoying the trappings of his wealth- thereby losing the lesson of wealth creation. They would have stopped working “in” their businesses and started working “on” them (which is not a bad thing) and in the process gotten used to a sedentary lifestyle bringing with it diabetes, heart disease and the like. After listing their stock on the market, they now watch the stock, check what the media is saying; buy-out here, shut down there and before you know it, stress, that leads to a stroke… So at the end of the day, the promise that the Harvard MBA holder made about taking naps with your wife was not the whole truth- he meant with your 3rd or 4th wife who is 20 years younger than you and whom you hardly know. With your new kids (it sometimes crosses you mind to do a DNA test- you can’t remember having time to make them), your friends, you can no longer relate with and on and on…
You know I am not saying don’t try hard! It is contrary to everything that is in me to say you should be anything other than your best you! But that exactly is my point, BE YOUR BEST YOU! Don’t be the best someone else’s expectation of you, don’t be the best copy. Be your best you! You are a designer original, be authentic.
Sometimes when I find that I just want and want- a new house, a new car, bigger this, nicer bag, fatter bank account (all legitimate wants), I stop and do a “wants audit”, “who do I want it for? Is it for me? Or is it to fit in? Why fit in, if I can stand-out?” I want a speaking and teaching career, because I see that there is a gift in me to help people, to enlighten, to show there’s a better way- so I want that because it puts me on the path of purpose and because it liberates others. My heart always wants to travel- it’s as though places in the world call out to me (Tuscanny, Santorini and the Amalfi Coast being the latest), and I just have to go! And when I go, it’s not to just visit or shop, I want to go where the locals are, see how they live, learn a little of their language, that’s why I speak a little French, a little Arabic, Hausa, a little Fulani and some Yoruba- it’s that I have a passion for people and our differences and similarities. I could go on and on but that’s me identifying what makes me tick.
But do I want to travel at the expense of family life? No! Do I have to? No! Can we make it a family thing? Hiking on the mountains, sand-bashing in the desert… Can we do it together? It may mean the scale is less grand, the hotels less fanciful but at the end of the day, I don’t want more now so that I can have less later- when it’s really important.
I am just saying, it’s the start of a new week, we are more than half way into the 2nd month of 2014- the new year we were all looking forward to and planned to change in! And it’s a good time to evaluate! To self-examine. What path am I on? Is it a path I like? Do I have to stay on this path for X more years? And how can I stay on it now such that I can get off it when I’m ready (whether it’s by saving X amount monthly, investing, taking X and Y courses, developing yourself…). When you are starving yourself and developing deadly disorders like anorexia and bulimia, is it really about you? Do you hate what you see and in evaluating yourself, are you just a body? Of course, you have an obligation to take care of the temple that God has given you- to keep it healthy- not curse it and try to make it into Kate Moss’ body when you are beautiful Adele. When you are feeling low and depressed about your lot in life and wanting more, more, more- more compared to whom? The person you are comparing yourself to, has paid their own price and is running their own race- how about you find out what your race is and run it? You don’t want to get to the finish line of a sprint and realise you can’t win any prize there because your name is on the marathon list!
Sometimes, more, isn’t more! Determine what is important now and make it so! When you look at your life, your cheque book, where your time is allocated, does it line up with what you say your priorities are? Do you have a plan to make it do so? Are you working that plan? You can use your strength now, to ensure that you have no strength and support later. Or you can use wisdom and temperance now, so that when you look back, you can say I did it my way and got it right! It’s up to you. More is not always more except it takes you to the highest and best you, you can be.
Just thought to share that with you. Be awesome this week!