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Thursday 4th Jan 2024

Success: Are you living by your definition or someone else’s?

Success is something you have to define for yourself, and no one can do it for you. Success could mean giving back to the world and making a difference. It could mean becoming a successful entrepreneur or something as simple as financial freedom so you can spend time bringing up your children. But one thing is for certain: a one-size doesn't fit all.

Success – your definition or someone else’s?

Read The Mexican Fisherman, a simple parable that clarifies what personal success is all about and not about.

It illustrates the illusions we easily fall into when pursuing other people’s goals. Wealth and financial freedom are desirable, but never forget that the end game is about happiness and a fulfilling life. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else thinks represents success; you must focus on what you want to achieve and what makes you happy.

The Mexican Fisherman, inspired by Heinrich Böll 

An American investment banker was standing on the pier of a little coastal village in Mexico when a small boat docked with just one fisherman. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on his fish’s quality and asked how long it took to catch them.


The Mexican replied, ‘Only a little while.’The American then asked why he didn’t stay out longer to catch more fish. The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American asked, ‘But what do you do with the rest of your time?’


The Mexican fisherman said, ‘I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife Maria and then stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play the guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.’


The American scoffed, ‘I’m a Harvard MBA. I can help you. If you spend more time fishing, you can buy a bigger boat with the proceeds. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats until you eventually have a fleet of fishing boats.’


The fisherman listened with polite interest. ‘And then?’ he asked. ‘Then, instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution.’


‘And then?’ the fisherman asked again.
‘You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York City, from where you would run your expanding enterprise.’
‘And how long would this all take?’ asked the fisherman.


‘Fifteen to twenty years,’ said the banker.
‘But what then?’


The banker laughed. ‘That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public. You’d become very rich. You would make millions.’ ‘Millions! And then what?’ asked the fisherman.


The American 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 Maria, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.’


Does this story resonate with you?

Who defines success in your life?

Do you need to review where you are at this moment in time?

The path to prosperity begins by discovering what it means to you. Take a moment. Close your eyes. Imagine your life the way you would like it to be. Picture yourself performing at your best, embodying the characteristics you admire and where you are when you have accomplished everything you desire in life. Write down the next steps to achieving those goals and commit your goals to paper.

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