Google “the mexican fisherman fable.” Read one of the countless re-tellings of the story. Go on. I’ll wait.
The story is about happiness and fulfilment. About how we work tirelessly to gain what is already close at hand. What is already accessible.
In my commons, I have a collection of notecards filed under “success/happiness.” After thinking about the story of the Mexican fisherman, I asked myself a series of questions.
What’s my “fishing”? What is the thing I do that I would do without need of recompense? What activity do I do in which the performance of the act is itself the reward? What do I need to be able to do it?
For me, it is writing. For others, it could be singing, programming, painting, building a business, being a part of a community, being a mother, working with animals. Whatever “it” is, chances are, like the Mexican fisherman, you don’t need much to do it. Perhaps you don’t need anything more than you already have.
Look around. Consider the people in your life. The tools and resources at your disposal. The opportunity on tap. What is stopping you from doing what you want to do?
Lack of time? Please. The only people who complain about lack of time are the ones who most abuse the time they have. Lack of money? Please. As Seth Godin muses, the amateurs have easy access to the same tools the pros use. Lack of support? Please. If you need a pat on the back to do something you claim to want to do, you don’t want it enough. Or as Matt Damon put it when asked what the best advice he received was:
“When I was younger, everybody told me not to be an actor, and to this day I say that to people who come up to me and say "I'm thinking of going into acting, what do you think?" I say "Absolutely not, it's a terrible idea, don't do it." because that's what everybody said to me, and I think that if you're gonna make it in this business that is so full of rejection and hardship, you need to believe in yourself despite what everybody you love and trust tells you.”
Nothing is impeding you. The Mexican fisherman knows that he doesn’t need to build a company and go public to be able to fish and spend time with his family. He sees how unnecessary all that ambition and striving is for the life he wants to lead.
What’s your excuse? You say you need more money, more wealth, more power, more time, more status? Are you sure about that?