While on vacation in one of the southern isles, a wealthy businessman was taking a morning stroll along the beach after breakfast. He arrived at a pier just as a small boat was docking. Inside the vessel was a young fisherman with two freshly caught tuna fish.
The businessman complimented the fisherman on the quality of the fish, asking how long it had taken him to catch them. The fisherman said, “Oh, not so long.”
Then the businessman asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish, to which the fisherman replied that two fish were enough to support his family’s needs for the day.
“So what do you do with the rest of your day?”
The fisherman said, “Well, I sleep in, I fish a little in the morning, then eat lunch with my lovely wife, take a nice long nap in the afternoon, and then wander down into the village each evening to drink wine with my friends and have a few laughs.”
The businessman shook his head and scoffed at the fisherman. He said, “Look, let me help you. You’re doing this all wrong. What you should be doing is spending more time fishing each day. Then you can sell the extra fish you catch for a profit, which you can use to buy a bigger boat. And with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several more big boats and start operating a whole fleet of fishing boats. And then instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can open your own cannery. Then you can control the entire catch, processing, and distribution. From there you can move to New York or Hong Kong, expanding your operations around the globe.”
The fisherman thought about this for a moment and then asked how long it would take. “About 20 years.” the businessman replied.
“And then what?” asked the fisherman.
The businessman laughed. “That’s the best part. At just the right time, you can announce an IPO, sell your stock to the public, and make millions. You’ll be rich!”
“Rich, huh? And then what?”
The businessman replied, “And then you can retire and move to a small village near the coast, where you can sleep in, fish a little in the morning, eat lunch with your lovely wife, take a nice long nap in the afternoon, and then go into the village to drink wine with your friends and have a few laughs.”
Adapted from a piece by Nobel Prize-winning author Heinrich Böll: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anekdote_zur_Senkung_der_Arbeitsmoral
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