July 2, 2011

success .: the making of :.

You've probably already heard the story of the Mexican fisherman. But in case you haven't, here it is:
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish. 
"How long it took you to catch them?" The American asked.
"Only a little while." The Mexican replied.
"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" The American then asked.
"I have enough to support my family's immediate needs." The Mexican said.
"But", the American then asked, "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, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. And instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked: "But, señor, how long will this all take?"
To which the American replied: "15-20 years."
"But what then, señor?”
The American laughed and said: "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."
"Millions, señor? Then what?"
The American said slowly, "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, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…"
from Stuff no one told me 

I was talking to a friend the other day about our plans for the future. She had been laid off a couple of days before and she was really disappointed at how (she thought) her career was heading nowhere. At some point of the conversation, she said something like: "Sometimes I feel I am never gonna be somebody". That statement really caught my attention. I mean… Really, dude??? Come on! Really??

I do understand why people care that much about their jobs. I do, really. Because I am ambitious and I do care. But I also know there is more to life than work and money. A lot more. My priorities in life are totally different at this point in my life, I guess - not that I am saying I am a better person for that. But I would never think I am a failure because I didn't turn out to be freakin' chief executive of a great company. I have heard the want-to-be-somebody speech from other people before. I know what they mean: there is nothing wrong with it per se. But I also feel like some people forget they should also succeed in their personal life (first - and if they have one). Or else they will be miserable all the same. Only they won't see it coming until it's too late – and it comes with interest.

Don't get me wrong: I think it is okay to want to become the next Bill Gates, the same way it is perfectly all right (and just as respectable) to be a stay-at-home mom or dad. I just don't understand how failing to be the best could ever cause anyone to believe they are losers.

I like what I do, you know. I don't wake up in the mornings in a bad mood because I have to go to work and I am really grateful not only because I have a job right now, but also because I am able to do something that I like. It feels a lot better that way. However, I don't work because I love to work. And neither do I work only because I have to. I do it because work should be part of everybody's life at some point. It defines your character, it helps you grow and accept responsibilities. Earning my own money has always been liberating and fortifying, but that's about it.

Now, luckily for me, work is only work: I work to live, I don't live to work. Work is only a small part of my life and it is a means to an end. If I lost my job or if my career didn't go the way I wanted, I would never feel that bad. I love life and everything in it. I guess things get a lot better when you have a successful personal life. It helps you think everything will be okay, even if it doesn't seem to.


  1. I loved this. The Mexican fisherman story is so nice. And true. But don't tell it to my husband. He does just less than enough work to take care of our needs and takes breaks constantly. Frustrating! There can be no success in that either in life. Must be a good balance. Needs need to be met and personal life needs to be fulfilling.

  2. Isn't it nice?? I totally understand what you mean; and I definitely agree with you there, you know.. I'm ambitious and hard working and working makes me feel good about myself. The thing is I guess people seem to forget there is more to life than their jobs... do you know anybody like that?

  3. My father in law is either working or sitting mindlessly in front of the tv. Even on vacation. It's sad. My father works much too hard but partly because he wants to have a good retirement (and in the USA with the way things are going all, retirement here will cost him a lot) and partly because he wants his granddaughters to not be needing anything. I don't mean like games or toys, I mean the nessecities in life, since my husband, well, anyway, he isn't cutting it so to speak.

  4. I know... :(
    And here in Spain, life isn't any easier, I guess.. and it's pretty important to work and save for the future, cause one can't really count on retirement only.

  5. olha que engraçado: tô lendo isso justamente no dia que ganhei o primeiro salário da minha vida! hahaha. mas concordo. não dá pra colocar o trabalho acima de tudo, apesar de que acho que isso ocorre muitas vezes com gente que não trabalha no que gosta. parece que elas dissociam completamente as horas que passam no trabalho do resto da vida, e só conseguem enxergar o trabalho como algo para se tornar melhor e maior e mais bem-cedido e, claro, mais rico. e daí negligenciam os outros aspectos, lógico. mas acho que quando você gosta do seu trabalho, trata ele como parte da sua vida, mas não só como forma de ganhar dinheiro, mas também de aprender e produzir coisas novas, e isso é muito mais saudável :)

  6. I was talking to my husband about this the other day. It is SO easy to tie your identity in with your work and money, and doing that is SO not a good thing. My husband lost his job when I was 4 months pregnant, and we really had to learn this lesson recently. We'd be around other people who were doing well financially, talking about how they were thinking of buying expensive cars or looking for a big house to buy, and I'd find myself feeling so horrible about myself! I had to really dig myself out of that rut and get it through my brain that we are MORE than what we do or the money that we make. I actually feel like I'm still learning that. Since having a child, though, I am understanding more and more that the meat of life is not money or social status. Who wants to be remembered for how much money they made, anyway?! I want to be remembered as a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc.
    Anyway, good post Luisa.

  7. Oh, we are so much more than what we do and the money that we make. You're so right, Jami!
    And, yep, I guess it is easy to tie your identity in with work, forgetting that time is a lot more important than money, especially time spent with your family and friends. Instead, people stay longer at the office, working extra hours, answering emails and making just one more phone call. I don't know about any phone call that couldn't wait until the next morning. Seriously.
    These folks are neglecting their life, really. I am pretty sure none of them will remember in ten or twenty years what was that very urgent phone call all about, anyway.

  8. ahh, great post. refreshing & timely for me. we are trying to get our family in a better position for our future & at the same time not just be working for the money :)

    because i love what i do too & in the end, that makes it all worth it.

    thanks for stopping by! and i looovvee spain. it's where i went on my honeymoon, so all of my memories are fond :)

  9. I'm so glad you had a great time here in Spain! :)


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