What Are You Chasing After?

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Apr 28, 2012

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
Henry Ford

Have you ever stood on a crowded street corner or even in a busy airport and wondered where everyone was going and what it is they do?  And if you look closely at their faces you try to imagine where they are from and what they do. Sometimes their clothes or the way they walk or talk reveal clues but, at best, one can only guess.

The story has been told of a banker who was vacationing in a small coastal village.  While walking near a pier he observed a small boat with just one fisherman.  Inside the boat with the fisherman were several yellow-fin tuna.  The businessman complimented the fisherman on the quality of his catch and asked how long it took to catch them.  “Only a little while,” he replied.

The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish.  The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.  “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” the banker asked.  The fisherman responded, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a nap in the afternoon, and stroll into the village each evening with my wife where we relax and sing and I play guitar with our friends.  I have a full and busy life.”

The businessman scoffed, “You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat and with the proceeds buy a fleet of boats.  Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you could sell directly to a processor.  You could eventually open your own cannery.  You would control the product, processing and distribution.  You could leave this small village and move to a big city where you could run your expanding enterprise.”

The fisherman smiled at the businessman, quietly gathered his catch and walked away.

I love that story because it centers on the very core of why we do what we do.  If our quest is to obtain more things regardless of the cost, then it influences everything we do.  How often we have seen some pay a sad price on their quest to their materialistic goal.  More than one business person finds himself standing in an empty house having sacrificed his family.  More than one educator has alienated her family on the way to earn yet one more graduate degree.

These words encourage us all:

  • “Don’t say you don’t have enough time.  You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Theresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  H. Jackson Brown, editor
  • “I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”  Zig Ziglar
  • “All men dream, but not equally.  Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity, but dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”  T. E. Lawrence
  • “When people say to me, ‘How do you do so many things?’ I often answer them, without meaning to be cruel, ‘How do you do so little?’  It seems to me that people have vast potential.  Most people can do extraordinary things if they have the confidence or take the risks.  Yet most people don’t.  They sit in front of the telly and treat life as if it goes on forever.”  Philip Adams
  • “Between the great things we cannot do and the small things we will not do, the danger is that we will do nothing.”  Adolph Monod     

So what are you chasing after?

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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