Why the Old Fisherman is Incredibly Selfish

Don’t believe every story you hear

What you’ll learn in this article: Just because a story is passed on as truth doesn’t make it true.


Many of you have heard a version of this popular story I’m going to re-tell. The moral of this is that you shouldn’t try and go and make a bunch of money because you already have all you need. I’m going to show you why this is ridiculous. If you haven’t heard this tale before, here it goes:

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the river in a small village…

As he sat, he saw a fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught many, many fish.

The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”

The fisherman said, “Not Long.”

Then why don’t you stay longer and catch even more?” The businessman asked.

This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman replied.

The businessman continued, “What do you do for the rest of the day?”

The fisherman said, “I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to catch some 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 friends 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 Ph.D. in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time fishing 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 the big city, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman asks, “And after that?”

The businessman laughs, “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?”


Simplicity can be overrated.

Notice the fisherman in the story has only thoughts about himself—HIS family, HIS entertainment, HIS relaxation.

This is the mindset of many people: “I’ve got enough.”

Let’s call a spade a spade, it’s a selfish mindset.

To avoid this, there are the 3 questions you should be asking yourself:


How you honestly answer these questions will determine the amount of success you’ll have in life. This is because success demands continuous attention.

It’s like a beautiful lawn or garden, no matter how green it gets or beautiful the flowers, you must continue to tend it. Don’t do “just enough.”

Don’t you see the selfishness in the village fisherman story? Who is he helping?

You need to go beyond meeting your basic needs.

You aren’t only interested in “getting by” in life, are you? Taking long afternoon naps, wandering into the bar and drinking beer with your buddies every night won’t bring lasting happiness. That may feel good at the moment but won’t bring you lasting satisfaction.

You want to succeed big!

But in order to do that, you need to fulfill more than your basic needs.

You need more than just a job, you need more than just health coverage, you need more than just education and you need more than a place to come to work.

What are basic needs? They include housing, food, clothing, and transportation.

The village fisherman has his basic needs met.

You need more than that to be successful.

Most of mankind is going for just basic needs. This is why the story above is so popular, it reinforces the myth that just going for basic needs is fine, and that it’s somehow ridiculous to want more.

The story goes, you have basic needs, and then you get rich, and you still just have basic needs. Of course the rich and the poor have basic needs. The difference is the rich can help others get their basic needs, the others can’t do anything but pity those without.

Which camp are you going to be in?

Be great,



P.S. Tickets are now on sale for GrowthCon 3 !!!

Grant Cardone is a New York Times bestselling author, the #1 sales trainer in the world, and an internationally renowned speaker on leadership, real estate investing, entrepreneurship, social media, and finance. His 5 privately held companies have annual revenues exceeding $100 million. Forbes named Mr. Cardone #1 of the “25 Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2017”. Grant’s straight-shooting viewpoints on the economy, the middle class, and business have made him a valuable resource for media seeking commentary and insights on real topics that matter. He regularly appears on Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC, and MSNBC, and writes for Forbes, Success Magazine, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com, and the Huffington Post. He urges his followers and clients to make success their duty, responsibility, and obligation. He currently resides in South Florida with his wife and two daughters.

Showing 6 comments
  • Dare Nana

    Hello GC, you’re just a great butt kicker, myth buster!

  • Alkan

    Thanks for the advice Grant. First time when I heard this story, it made sense. It made me feel good in that moment. But now I realize that it was just an average mindset to settle down. Thanks for waking up man!

  • Tossie Griner

    By the way, Happy belated B Day Grant! I just want you to know that you set the bar so high when it comes to the Success Quotient that I never have to look for the end of anything and that gives me infinite hope. Thank you GC!

  • Dean Hart

    Push Power To Power * Buy The Big Boat * Invest In The Future

  • Kim

    Mr. G you always keep me thinkin! The man on the shore should ask the man what happens when the storms come and your little boat is sunk? What then my man because that storm is comin so you better build that bigger boat now. HAHA



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