A Classic Lesson on Being Small and Happy

When we arrived at our rental house in Mexico, we found well-worn notebook with hints about the town and surroundings.  On one of the pages was a story that I had heard before, but for this particular vacation, and at this point in our careers, it had extra meaning.  It matches, with a bit of exaggeration, our goals when it comes to managing our lifestyle.

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

"Not very long," said the fisherman.

"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 to the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play guitar and sing 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 bigger boat will bring, you can buy more boats until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling fish to the middle man, you can go directly to the processing plant and maybe even own your own plant. Then, you can leave this little village and direct your enterprise from Mexico City or even New York City!

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, maybe 25 years." replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards?  Then it gets really interesting, answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big you can start sellingstocks 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, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!"

We don't have time to sleep late and have a siesta, but the spirit of this story rings true to us.  It's all about lifestyle and doing what you love on a day-to-day basis. We will continue to work hard and push for success, but at the same time, build a business that supports the life that we want right now, not in 30 years.