This concept is beautifully illustrated in this short parable about a conversation between a "well-educated" Harvard grad and a simple fisherman.
The story speaks for itself. Enjoy...
A powerful executive was walking along the beach in a small coastal village, taking a much needed vacation. It was his first in more than 10 years. He noticed a small boat with just one fisherman pulling up to shore. Inside the small boat were several large fish. The executive complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The fisherman replied, “Not very long.”
The executive then asked, “Then why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”
To which the fisherman responded, “I have enough to support my family.”
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?” the executive asked.
The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos.”
The executive quickly interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would then of course need to leave this village and move to the big city and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The fisherman then asked, “But how long will all this take?”
To which the executive replied, “Twenty, maybe 25 years.”
“And after that?” the fisherman asked.
“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the executive, laughing. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You could make millions.”
“Millions? Really? Then what?”
“Then you could finally retire and move to a small coastal fishing village! There 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.”
This parable, by Heinrich Böll, was originally published in German , but it has been translated and re-interpreted into different scenarios many times since it first appeared in 1963.
I've read several versions over the years, but this is my favorite because of the way the translator/interpreter cleverly developed a context that defines the wide gulf between how the "well-educated" executive and the "uneducated" fisherman approach their lives.