Speak Out to Play a Bigger Game

The Greek Fisherman – The experts don’t always know what’s best

October 28, 2014 | Paula Smith

Greek Fisherman

I love this old tale and I am not sure of its original source but it serves as a reminder of why we do what we do. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in our busy lives, we forget what we ultimately want to achieve with our lives. I don’t know who originally wrote it, but one of my favourite stories I’ve heard is the story about the Greek fisherman and the Harvard MBA. Enjoy!

“A corporate executive, on holiday in a small, Greek seacoast village, was strolling by the docks and taking in the local color. He complimented one fisherman on the quality of his catch. “How long did it take you to get all those fish?” he wondered.

“Not very long,” answered the Greek. “An hour or two.”

“Then why didn’t you stay out longer to catch more?”

Shrugging, the Greek explained that his catch was sufficient to meet his needs, and those of his family.

The executive asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a nap with my wife. In the evening, I watch the sunset on the beach, then go to the village to see my friends, dance a little, play the bouzouki, and sing songs. I have a full life.”

The executive said, “I have an MBA from Harvard. I can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You’ll catch extra fish that you can sell. With the revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring you, you can buy a second boat and a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.

You can ship fish to markets all around the world. In time, you can then move to New York City to direct your huge enterprise.” “How long would that take?” asked the Greek.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the executive.

“And after that?”

“When your business gets really big, you can sell stock and make millions!” exclaimed the executive with excitement.

“Millions? Really? And after that?”

After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a small village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a nap with your wife, and spend your evenings watching the sunset on the beach and then singing, dancing, and playing the bouzouki with your friends.”

Are you living your life, running your business or climbing that corporate ladder for all the right reasons? 

Keynote Speaker CSP, Master Trainer and Business Leadership Coach
Paula has been helping experts, entrepreneurs, leaders and teams to harness the power of effective communication and leadership for the past 30 years.

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