Ask What’s It All For?

A corporate executive on holiday in a small Greek seacoast village was strolling by the docks and drinking 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 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 zeal.

“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 singing, dancing, and playing the bouzouki with your friends.”

Source: Managers Ignite! Now is the Time to Take Back Your Company, Your Career, Your Life by Vince Thompson / ChangeThis

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  1. The story is an altered and simplified version of one of Heinrich Boell’s short stories “Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral”; might be nice to acknowledge the original.

  2. Hi Hem,

    Thanks for pointing out the original. I don’t recall it being referenced in the source I took it from, but if it was then the mistake is mine for not mentioning it. Either way, it is good to know.


  3. Hi Jeff,

    I just stumbled accross this story and simply loved it.

    Could you please tell me what was the original source where you found it.

    I am writing a book and would like to include this story inside.

    Thanks and happy fishing!


  4. Hi Ted,

    The source I found the story in is listed above in the entry (a ChangeThis manifesto) but as Hem Mahesh wrote in his comment, that is not the original source.


  5. Moral of story is good. Person should have positive attitude to grow and work hard to achive.Later he can retire and enjoy his fruit. There are people born with golden spoon.., at least those guys should do something for society they live.

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