Live to Work
I was born into an environment where all I knew to do was to work diligently. This habit caused a sore in my soul that is barely starting to heal. I was taught to live to work. Everything I did was never good enough. As a result, I worked even harder and pushed the envelope each time.
When I was 17 years old, I found two huge moving boxes and took all of my accolades, trophies, merits, and trashed them. I did not feel deserving.
It pains me to have to recall it, but I feel that it’s a flawed perspective that many people have – namely Americans. Let me share with you a funny story of fortune hunters by Tim Ferriss in The Four Hour Workweek.
An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of the fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.
“But… What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, senor, how long will all this take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years. 25 tops.”
“But what then, senor?”
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, senor? Then what?”
“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you would sip wine and play guitar with your amigos…”
I recently watched a movie, The King’s Speech with Colin Firth – bloody good flick.
The movie is about King George VI who had the courage to speak to his people (1/4 the world) during a time of great turmoil (World War II) all while speaking with a stammer. With the help of his speech therapist, he gained the confidence to deliver a message that is still remembered today.
A lifestyle change in yourself and your business is not easy. It takes clarity in which direction you want to go and bravery to execute it. Each time I return from an international travel, I’m sitting at home puzzled as to the way I live in America – work hard, save, invest, work hard, save, invest, die.
Learn to felicitate even the smallest of milestones. You deserve it. Change requires courage.
Simplifying life one step at a time,
P.S. When I was visiting the Canary Islands, I decided to go to a spa to wash away my stress. Contradictorily, I brought my phone along to work. Anyway, midway I walked into a beautiful swimming pool with statues and waterfalls. I was so awestruck that I ran and cannonballed myself into it (yeah, I’m tacky like that)…with my phone in my pocket. I couldn’t email for weeks. You could do the same ;)
P.P.S. The world is so beautiful that it’s a shame not to explore it.