Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Purpose of Work

An American businessman was at the pier of a small South Pacific island village when a small proa with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small proa was a dorado and several large grouper. The American complimented the Islander on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Islander replied, "Only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Islander 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 said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a late afternoon nap with my wife, Helia, and then in the evening after dinner I stroll into the village where I sip rum and play guitar with my friends. I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and can help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. 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, and soon you would open your own cannery. You would control the production, processing, and distribution. Of course, you would need to leave this small fishing village and move to Australia, then Los Angeles and eventually New York City, from where you could better run your expanding enterprise."

The South Seas fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all 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, really? Then what?"


The American said, "Then you retire. Move to a small fishing village where you sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandkids, take a late afternoon nap with your wife, and then in the evening after dinner, stroll into the village to sip rum and play your guitar with your friends."


Borrowed. I have no idea where this came from; I have seen many versions on the net and edited this one to suit my sense of story telling.

2 comments:

  1. Now that I'm semi-retired (awfully busy writing, though) the logic seems inescapable. I live a simpler life now, but it's better.

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