Are You Living
The Good Life?
A Parable by Mark
Albion, author of More
Many years ago, after I graduated from Business
School, I took a vacation in a small, quiet fishing
village, where I thought I’d be able to take my mind
off of business… if only for a few days.
Walking along the beach before sunset, I saw a
small fishing boat come into shore. Inside the boat
were a lone fisherman and several beautiful yellow-
fin tuna. “How long did it take you to catch those
fish?” I asked. “Only a little while,” he replied.
“Why don’t you stay out a bit longer and catch more?” I
asked, certain there must be a demand for more fish than the
few I saw on the boat. The fisherman smiled and said, “I catch
enough to support my family, and I live a full and busy life.”
“I rise with the sun, fish a little, play with my
daughters, have lunch with my family, and then teach
children how to fish before I stroll into the village
each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with
my wife and friends.”
“Listen,” I said, “I have an MBA. I can help you vastly expand
your business. If you spent more time fishing, you’d soon earn
enough to buy a bigger boat. With a bigger boat, you’d catch
enough fish to buy several, then a whole fleet. You’d sell
directly to a processor, cutting out the middleman and greatly
increasing your profits.
The fisherman raised an eyebrow. “Eventually,” I said, “you
could open your own cannery and control the product,
processing, and distribution, then relocate operations to the
capitol. If all goes well, you’ll likely find yourself in New York
City, in control of a rapidly expanding empire.”
“How long would all of this take?” the fisherman asked.
“Oh, about ten to fifteen years,” I replied. “And then
what?” he asked. “Well, that’s the best part,” I said.
“You’d announce an IPO and sell stock to the public. At
that point, my friend, you would be very rich. A millionaire
many times over.”
The fisherman paused.
“Really, a millionaire? Then what?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” I answered, a bit surprised.
“I mean,” he said, “What would I do if I were a
“What kind of question is that?” I asked.
“Whatever you like, of course.”
“I imagine you’d retire, move to a coastal fishing village
where you’d rise with the sun, fish a little, play with your
granddaughters, have lunch with your family, and then
teach children to fish before strolling into the village each
evening, where you’d sip wine and play guitar with your
wife and friends.”
The fisherman smiled and, without saying
another word, began to build a small fire.
Together we shared a taste of the delicious fish
and watched the sun go down over the ocean as
the sound of guitars rose from the village nearby.
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