Story about Fisherman

Hallstatt, April 2019. (Picture taken by me).

This is a story from a book that I am currently reading.

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village. As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat toward the shore having caught quite a few big fish. The businessman was impressed and asked thefisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?” The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”

“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished. “This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said. The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?” The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and [when] evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink—we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman. “I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to São Paulo, where you can set up an HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman continues, “And after that?” The businessman laughs heartily. “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.” The fisherman asks, “And after that?” The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with [your] kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!” The fisherman was puzzled. “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”

Source : Paul Dolan. Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think. Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

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The Secret Weapon : Curiosity or Endurance

Hallstatt, Austria (picture was taken by me)

So this is how the story goes.

I’ve read it somewhere, a popular quote from Albert Einstein “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

This quote struck my mind when I read it for the first time. I never acknowledge myself as a passionately curious person. I tend to have several questions, but most of the time, I am satisfied when there is one closest answer that I can find, or sometimes I just leave some questions to remain unanswered, especially one that related with ambiguous or trivial subject.

Sometimes, I question myself, why am I not critical enough? Why is it easy for me to understand and not disagree with the reason of other’s idea (as long as it makes sense)?

Along the time, I understand myself as a fox type of person. So, according to philosopher Isaiah Berlin, inspired by Greek poet, repeated by Kahneman in his book, there are two types of people, hedgehog or fox.

The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing. The hedgehog account for particular events within a coherent framework, and confident with his forecasts. The strength of the hedgehog is in his focus and central vision. The fox is complex thinker, he doesn’t believe that one big thing drives the march for history. The power of the fox is in his flexibility and openness to experience.

The hedgehog never wavers, never doubts. The fox is more cautious, more pragmatic, and more inclined to see complexity. Kahneman said that the hedgehogs make good tv programs, especially when they are on a different side, while foxes are less likely to be invited in tv debates.

That explanation gives me some idea why I see the world as a combination of several different entities and forces, the reason I can understand and not being “critical” enough when other give their statement because I believe that their point of view can be true as well.

However, knowing that I am a fox type person does not make me feel any better. Go back to Einstein’s quote, I am neither talented nor passionately curious, so what is the “special thing” that I have? This question always running back in my mind, especially being in the environment when everyone seems to have strong opinion and asking questions that do not align with their perspective.

Until yesterday, I found a trivial quiz from Adobe, asking “what is your secret weapon? Curiosity or endurance?”

and it just hit me like a lightning strike. I never consider my endurance as a secret weapon. I know that I am not a quitter, but I don’t recognise that along the process, I endure a lot of the things, the temptation to quit, the sleepless nights, the struggle to overcome barrier, the critics, rude comments or even insults. There are many times that I feel like I want to quit, but here I am, make an effort to continue anything that I’ve started.

It is funny how I always looking for things that I don’t have and never see the things that I actually do in my daily life.

As Kahneman said “We’re blind to our blindness. We have very little idea of how little we know. We’re not designed to know how little we know.”

As I embrace one more knowledge about myself, I realise there are tons of things that I don’t know about myself, too.

The Things That Matter

Have you ever felt that you just trying to complete your routine and not intentionally living your life?

Have you ever felt so upset for things that actually not having that much impact in your life?

Last year, I have an online mentoring session with a lady from Microsoft. So, I shared with her that I felt I was just doing routine activities, not really intentionally living my life. She shared with me her story that left me with a lasting impression.

She said that everyone has priorities or things that matter in their life. For her, it is her family. She said that it was unbelievable when she saw her calendar and realised that she couldn’t attend most of her family gathering because of other appointments. Since that moment, she plans her calendar and always make sure that her activities align with her priorities. She consciously makes plan for family lunch or dinner and ensures that she always be there.

“It is conflicting how we say that our priority is something, but actually we don’t really do thing that aligns with it.”

Seoul, Korea (picture was taken by me)

So, how many times do you think your family or friends matter, yet you rarely call them?

How many times do you say that constant learning process such as reading is important, but from 24 hours that you have, the time that you allocate for that activity is very less compared to watching movies or scrolling instagram feed?

How many times do you say that you want to maintain your health, yet you eat junk food and never exercise?

How many times do you get angry about some strangers discussing things on the internet?

So many conflicting things have been done that do not represent the things that you think are matter.

So, before we put (and waste our) effort on to something, ask yourself “Does it really matter? Is it my priority?”