Once upon a time, a fisherman taught a banker a lesson that would change his life.
The banker was vacationing in a small coastal village when a fisherman docked beside him with several beautiful large fin tuna in his small boat. The banker complimented the fisherman on his catch and asked how long it took.
“Just a little while”, replied the fisherman.
The banker then asked why the fisherman didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish.
As the fisherman unloaded the tuna, one by one, he replied, “Because I have enough to support my family. Plus, I enjoy sleeping late, playing with my children, taking an afternoon nap with my wife and strolling into the village in the evenings to sip wine and play guitar with my friends.”
The banker, who was extremely well-educated with an ivy league education, scoffed and gave the fisherman a lesson in business…
“Spend more time fishing. With the proceeds, buy a bigger boat, and with those proceeds, buy several boats. Eventually, you will have a fleet of fishing boats and you could move to a big city like LA or NYC to run your growing business.”
“But then what?” asked the fisherman.
The banker chuckled condescendingly and said, “Then, you could eventually announce an IPO, sell your company stock and become a millionaire.”
“But then what?” asked the fisherman, again.
The banker responded, “Then you can retire. Move to a small coastal village and enjoy sleeping late, playing with your children, taking an afternoon nap with your wife and strolling into the village in the evenings to sip wine and play guitar with your friends.”
The fisherman smiled at the banker, winked, threw the stringed tuna over his shoulder and then carried his catch into town.
I love this story. This version I found while on the Ugmonk website. I actually really like their Analog product, which jives with what I believe about having physicial reminders for your goals as with the maxim "Out of sight, out of mind".
The point of this story is about contentment. It's knowing when to recognise enough is enough, when it comes to material things.
What this story doesn't tell you is where 'enough' begins. That's for you to figure out.
I have to say, that growth is a necessary and important part of life. All living things grow, and if you see business and your career as 'living' and not dead, then growth is essential.
I do think this story is not making the point that you SHOULDN'T grow. It is to recognise, in your heart, of knowing when to say enough.
Knowing what 'enough' means for you, is the key to contentment.
Morgan Housel makes this point in his book The Psychology of Money:
The idea of having “enough” might look like conservatism, leaving opportunity and potential on the table.
I don’t think that’s right.
“Enough” is realizing that the opposite—an insatiable appetite for more—will push you to the point of regret.
The only way to know how much food you can eat is to eat until you’re sick. Few try this because vomiting hurts more than any meal is good. For some reason the same logic doesn’t translate to business and investing, and many will only stop reaching for more when they break and are forced to. This can be as innocent as burning out at work or a risky investment allocation you can’t maintain.
Love the suggestion to at least 'try' it til the point of vomitting. But you don't have to do that. Just learn from others.
I think it is wise to look yourself in the mirror and ask if you are the type that will say "Never enough" or "I have enough".
This is not an overnight journey, but a consistent habit to practice.
Here are a few ways you can overcome this:
- Recognize what you have and be grateful
- Fasting from what you crave the most to curb the appetite
- Give away things such as your time, your treasures or your talents
- Surround yourself with people who are contented
- Don't surround yourself with people who can't have enough
- Get off Instagram or unfollow people
- Build yourself rich relationships
- Learn from books
- Try minimalism. I like this definition: Modern-day minimalism is about intentionally living with less so that you can focus on what matters most.
- Measure what matters most, not least
As a man of faith, I find some wisdom and comfort in this verses about finding contentment, that it is possible:
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:11-13 NIV