There’s a nice little story called The Mexican Fisherman making its way through the Internet. It teaches about the importance of enjoying life and the irony of materialism. While it bears a good message, there are some very dangerous underlying concepts. If internalised, these can keep you from achieving your full potential.
The Mexican Fisherman: Problematic Paradigms
The story paints the successful American in a negative light. To him, the only purpose of business is to live comfortably. While this may represent a minority of people in business, successful people are more often motivated by passion rather than material gain. This passion is usually born out of a desire to make a real difference in the lives of other people. The take-home message here is to focus on serving others. Let money be the reward for your hard work and sacrifices.
The Mexican Fisherman: Glorified Mediocrity
In the story, the Mexican fisherman says he “had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.” Realistically, how many people can work for only a few hours a day and make ends meet? Even if we assumed that he could achieve this, what would happen to his family if he were unable to fish? His financial plan does not account for violent weather, illness, or retirement. Earning just enough to survive is not enough to survive! In fact, nearly half of Australians will not have enough money to live comfortably at retirement age1. Rather than settling for earning just enough, why not set an ambitious goal that will meet your needs plus more?
The Mexican Fisherman: Wasted Potential
The Mexican had a unique opportunity to be mentored by a successful businessman. He could have made a difference in his community. By starting and growing his own business, he could have created employment opportunities for people in the village. These individuals would learn new skills and earn a wage that would support their families. He could have made a real difference to others in the community. However, he didn’t.
The American envisioned selling the fish product globally. As a result, thousands would enjoy high quality fish at a fair price. Without this valuable service, eating fish would require investing in one’s own fishing equipment and spending hours catching them. Instead, they would be able to pay a token sum to enjoy the nutritious tuna. All of the above benefits to society were never realised because the Mexican Fisherman could not see the bigger picture.
The Mexican fisherman and his family lived simply. If he continued living simply and became successful in business, he would have had plenty left over to give to charitable causes. Instead of just making ends meet, he could have financially supported any number of worthy projects alleviating poverty or upholding social justice. Unfortunately in this story, this never occurs to the American or Mexican. As a result, thousands of people missed out on receiving badly needed support.
I trust that by now you will see business and money in a new light. It is paramount for us to have accurate paradigms about these concepts. Consequently, they will affect our choices and behaviour. To be effective, we need to see the value that businesses bring to our communities. If we wish to leave a legacy and give charitably, it can be noble to pursue wealth. In the words of Jim Rohn “Earn more than you need, so you can help those in need.”
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Filmed in Chadstone, Melbourne