I remember the first time I heard this simple parable about 15 years ago on the Pastor Steve Brown Radio show. I have used it several times with audiences over the years. I never knew the source until an exhaustive Google Search. It was adapted from is one of the most famous short stories from German writer Heinrich Böll. Post WWII he was very influential and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972.
It’s one little story with many little lessons that mean many different things to all kinds of people. Even if you have read it before it is worth another review because you may be in a different stage in your life than the last time you read it.
Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of the fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.
“But…what do you do with the rest of your time?” the American asked curiously.
The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife Julia, and 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 laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you would run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will all this take?”
To which the American replied “15-20 years. 25 tops.”
“But what then, señor?”
The American 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 and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?”
“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…
What is important to you right now? Has it changed in the past few years? Jim Rohn taught me to not major in minor things. That is good advice. What are the minor things you need to let go off to free up more time on the majors?