Last week I met a former colleague of mine at a local coffee shop where we were catching up on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was a rather enlightening conversation, one that I was not expecting.
Three years ago my friend Elizabeth made a decision to leave the rat race of corporate Canada as a VP of a creative agency and become an independent freelancer. It has been a decision that has changed her life for the better. She has reconnected with the things that are most important to her – personal happiness, family and friends. And she is still produces great work as a freelancer, and gets this…generates an income!
She is grounded. Calm. Happy. Loving life. Dare I say fulfilled!
Elizabeth tells me when past employees or clients see her today they say “wow you have changed so much” (for the better). This observation leaves her feeling sad and perplexed because she knows the person they are seeing today, is the true Elizabeth. It was the Elizabeth in corporate Canada who was the “changed Elizabeth”.
She had an epiphany, “looking back, I can not believe how awful and miserable I was towards others….and for what? To win the next proposal? To earn a promotion? To buy a bigger house or fancier car? It wasn’t worth losing my true self!”
Although Elizabeth was very “successful” according to society’s definition, she realizes that the person she became had a negative impact on herself and those around her.
Elizabeth has shifted her perspective. She has slowed down. She has reconnected with her natural true self, and she is loving life more than ever. Elizabeth still produces great work and earns a living (albeit a little less money). Here is the best part, her lifestyle has changed only minimally and she now has an abundance of happiness.
She shared with me a Mexican Parable that parallels her life today. I hope you enjoy it, I know I did.
The Mexican Fisherman and the American Investment Banker (Author Unknown)
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 Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked, “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 siestas with my wife, Maria, and 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 have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “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, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”
“But what then?” asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was 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 American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”
Are you living the life of an Mexican Fisherman or an American Investment Banker?