The Mexican Fisherman

By Michael Armijo


I’m convinced that deep inside our hearts we all possess the ability to be successful. I rely on a simple formula: “Confidence + Desire = Ability.” I believe that when we have confidence, and then add our desire, we find the path to ability. And I believe that each and every one of us can accomplish whatever we want, just as long as we have desire. But it has to come deep from within.

What I’ve also learned is that not everyone shares the same definition of success that I do, and I’ve learned that what’s important to me is not important to others.

As a motivator, I want the entire world to apply themselves and work hard to be on top. I want to encourage everyone to do their best and step up to their inner ability. But I’ve come to the realization that sometimes we have to really look clearly at the big picture, because sometimes our goals are the same. It all depends on how you look at it.

This brings me to a story I’d like to share, a story called:

The Mexican Fisherman

An American investment banker was 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 yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.” The American then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The fisherman said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.” The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” To which the fisherman replied; “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a 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’m a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. 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, you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman. 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?…Then what?” the fisherman asked.

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 siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

What this story reminds me is when you’re searching for success in life, you need to determine what success means. Just as the fisherman believed in his simple life, we need to look at the simplicity of what we really want. At times, we may find, we don’t need to look too far for success because sometimes we’re already successful. Some of us, deep inside, are simple, happy, already successful Mexican Fishermen.