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Jan 22 2012

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The Businessman and the Fisherman – A Parable for Today

You may have heard this little story before, but we think it is a great reminder of the joys of a simple life well lived.

The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Costa Rican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Tico on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Tico replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Tico said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Tico fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a 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, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could 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 eventually open 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 New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Tico fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman 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, señor? Then what?” The businessman 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 a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?”

NOTE: The author of this story is unknown, though it has been reprinted for years with some variations. I must confess that the version I used features a Mexican fisherman, which I changed to a Costa Rican (Tico) fisherman.

Permanent link to this article: http://retireforlessincostarica.com/2012/01/the-businessman-and-the-fisherman-a-parable-for-today/