One of my all-time favourite books is The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. In his book he challenges the status quo. He makes you question whether working harder really is the answer to achieving success in life and in business. He makes you question what success really means.
He makes you realize that if you were to just open your mind, you’ll be able to see that working smarter makes a lot more sense, since you then not only get to achieve success much easier, but you also get to have much more free time to pursue the stuff that really matters to you in life – whether that is travelling the world, going on adventures, sipping a mojito on a remote beach, spending more time with your loved-ones or even just getting to sleep in a bit later each morning without an alarm waking you up to go to work.
If you haven’t already read The 4-Hour Workweek, I highly recommend reading it. Regardless of whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, his book will alter the way you think and make you more productive than ever before, not only in your work but also in life.
There is one particular story he shares in his book which really makes you question what success really means. And here I want to now share it with you.
Once you have read this short story, take a few moments and let it really sink in… Then decide what success really means to YOU. In the end it does not matter what success means to others. All that matter is what success means to you and whether you are living your life according to your own definition of success. If you are, then you are already a success.
The American Businessman & The Mexican Fisherman
An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. 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 yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his 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.
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, senor.”
The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard MBA 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 coasting fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, senor, how long will all this take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years. 25 tops.”
“But what then, senor?”
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, senor? 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…”