Losing what’s in hand to reach for more

The following was shared with me by my friend Patti Komara, who owns one of the best gyms in the country. Patti not only runs a great program but she shares her wisdom with neophytes like me on topics of business, teaching, and life in general. I have learned so much by simply being her friend and I gratefully share the following tale that she found in a sub shop, of all places, but wisdom comes wherever you find it. 

An 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 fisherman

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, “15-20 years.” “But what then?”

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?” 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 your guitar with your amigos!” (Author Unknown).

I love this story because it shares something that I feel we often overlook. In our culture we are always looking for the bigger, better thing. Our homes, cars, clothes, and even our friends are constant targets for upgrades. We work harder to get more and never realize that we already have so much. I think that one of the driving forces for disease in our culture is that our society tells us that we are not happy yet. We could be happier and we should not rest until we are. However when we achieve the “more” we still don’t have enough. This constant dissatisfaction causes stress. We all know how stress manifests into any myriad of ailments. Then, when sick, we realize that this disease will slow us down and we will no longer be able to attain the “more”.  That realization either kills us or brings us to a place of peaceful regret.

There are many tales of people on their deathbed who realize that what they had in hand was lost when they reached for more. It’s sad that we often have to be in that tragic position to realize that we are rich beyond measure.

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