I have just returned from Cambodia where there are both many local fisherman living a simple, family, enjoyable life and many western business people capitalising on the business opportunities in this developing country. Some of the people want change others not quite so much. I was reminded of this story.

The Fisherman and the Businessman 

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 towards the shore having caught quite a few big fish. The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “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 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 Sao Paulo, where you can set up 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 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?”


Acknowledgements to an unknown author for creating this story which holds much wisdom. Berrett Koehler turned the story into a video clip, you can watch this on youtube


And what happens when the fishermen listen to the business man from the west?


Gabriel Hummel says it goes something like:


"You used to love this place, but you say it has lost its charm.

You complained about the noisy music in the streets at night so we stopped playing it.

You complained about the roosters in the night so we got rid of them.

You loved the children here but you drove up the cost of houses so no one with children can afford to live here.

You complained about the dogs in the streets so we got rid of them.

Now you ask if I know of another charming village you can move to."

I hope when I return to Cambodia the charm of the village and the local culture is retained.

So what about you? Are you spending your time, energy and life working on something that destroys what you have now ?

or are you remembering to keep in sight what you value?

"don't throw the baby out with the baby water"

What is it that you value?

What is it that does not want to change?

What is that is worth keeping?


cherishing with all your heart?

As always sharing helps you learn from your reflecting about your own experience and making your learning embodied, and through your generous sharing you may well trigger an opening for another.

Leave your comments below or come and join me for a conversation on facebook. I personally respond to all questions and comments.

Love Deb