Know Where You’re Going?

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took 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. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“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 middle man, 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 huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“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.”

And the moral of this story is: ……… Know where you’re going in life… you may already be there.


9 thoughts on “Know Where You’re Going?”

  1. Emily,

    Did you write this? It is an excellent parable. I will be passing it on to some of my friends who really need it. It seems like the paper chase consumes so many of us that we forget what is really important to us. Put in a different way, “many of us are racing up the ladder, only to realize that the ladder is on the wrong wall”.

    It is so funny how we are always chasing after that which we think is better, without remembering to give thanks for what we already have. Just yesterday I overheard someone talking about how unfortunate people in the slums in India are and how it is impossible for them to think that life is ‘good’. I thought to myself that happiness is relative depending on what we are grounded in. If money and the accumulation of “stuff” is what we are grounded in, we are in some serious trouble.

    Thank you very much for this post. It comes at a really good time for me.


    Joel (

  2. Hi Joel,

    No, I did not write this story, I just found it at a time when I also really needed it. Thanks for your comments. I checked out your blog and it looks like you really lead an exciting life. Kudos, for following your dreams and making them happen!

  3. Emily,

    I sat in a bar yesterday afternoon and I asked about 5 of my friends to read the story and they all had a great big smile on their faces right when they reached the end. I will keep spreading the story on my end.

    Thanks for the feedback on the blog – yes I do live quite the interesting life. Keep up the good work.

  4. Well, I’m Mexican (not that important, but I think it’s good to point it out) and I do like this story.
    Nevertheless I find a little bit wrong, since studying and being successful in life It’s not just about money and having a good time with your wife.
    For example I’d like to develop videogames, and I’m already into it, but I don’t wanna do it just for the money, I wanna be someone important, I wanna be remembered. That is what life is about, At least that’s what I think

    Great story though i really loved it =D

  5. I think that’s the point of the story. For everyone the end goal is different, so everyone’s version of success is different. I love this ideology 🙂

  6. My father told me this story while driving through a beautiful lake when I went to visit him and my family in Costa Rica. patowlmc, I myself am a developer, you need to know, just like you might not know the name of the developers of your favorite game no one else will. Do it for the love if anything, but always keep in mind you will not be remembered or thanked your project manger and your boss will. You just have to learn that its OK and there is nothing better then living life at its fullest. More than working on a game for weeks straight…. but that can feel good when your done as well :P……

  7. I appreciate your story Emily. Getting out of the rat race is tough, but worth it. Living the simple life works…with others, with a community. You can’t do it alone. I tried. What comes first & last is real love. Then you can serve others fully & freely. And learn a craft indepth that puts others first & that you can really put your soul into. The Industrial & High Tech Revolutions missed it here big time. But we can return…& make something of our lives & our handcrafts.

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