How Much is Enough? The Story of the Mexican Fisherman

mexican fisherman story

I've been doing some deep thinking this year about my life goals and a question that keeps coming up is:

"How much is enough?"

More specifically ...

How much money is enough?

How much stuff is enough?

How many friends, social activities, hobbies, vacations, etc is enough?

You get the idea.

I'm now at a point in my life where I realize that less is more. I look around and see the stuff in my house and wish half of it was gone. Too much stuff gets overwhelming and hard to manage.

I'm in the process of cleaning house - literally! It feels light, as if I'm releasing physical and emotional weights as I explore how much is enough.

I kickstarted the process of exploring how much is enough by reading the story of The Mexican Fisherman.

It's a delightful, short read. I'm betting you'll find something useful in the story.


The Mexican Fisherman

An American investment banker stood at the pier of a quaint coastal Mexican village. He witnessed a lone fisherman dock his small boat carrying several large fish. The American praised the fisherman for the quality of his catch and asked how long it took to catch the fish.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The American asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish.

The Mexican said the fish he caught was enough for his family.

Puzzled, the American inquired, “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 siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the earnings, you could buy a bigger boat. Then, with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman as you currently do, you would sell directly to the fish processor. Someday, you could even open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. 

Then he added: “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But how long will this take?”

 To which the American replied, “Fifteen to twenty years.”

“But what then?”

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?

To which the investment banker replied:

“Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening, sip wine, and play guitar with your amigos! Wouldn't that be great?"

 Ha! Indeed, wouldn't that be great? But of course, that's what he already had.



Here's what I learned from the story:

Knowing what is important to you is vital. The fisherman knew what he valued - his family, his friends, and his lifestyle. And since the research shows that the quality of our relationships impacts the quality of our lives, his choice to spend time with friends and family over working more increases his overall happiness.

Create a life that fits your values.  The fisherman didn't live to work. Instead, he worked to live. Imagine that! What a great way to approach life. 

Know how much is enough for you. The fisherman wasn't focused on how much material wealth he could gain. Instead, he knew just how much he needed to meet his needs. And that was enough for him.

Sometimes simple is better. The fisherman had chosen to live a simple life and he was much happier because of it.


What will you do differently?

So what's your takeaway from reading this?

How much is enough for you?

Are you a slave to your stuff and chasing material wealth?

Are you working to live or are you living to work?

What can you implement in your own life?

These are good things to ponder in order to create the type of life you want.

I think I'll run now so I can clean out my closet and donate what I don't need.


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