While vacationing in northern Michigan, a management consultant decided to spend a week on the legendary Mackinac Island between the state’s upper and lower peninsulas. The rather small historic island covers a mere 3.8 square miles and is home to a population of just 523 residents. However, it plays host to as many as 15,000 tourists a day during summer prime time.
Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the island so travel is either by foot, bicycle, horse-drawn carriage, roller blades or saddle horses.
While hiking along the uninhabited shoreline, the consultant came across a lone, elderly fisherman who was obviously not one of the many tourists visiting the scenic island. Noting the quality of the catch (whitefish, lake trout and other native species), he asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them.
“Not too long,” answered the quiet fisherman.
“Then why don’t you stay here longer and catch even more?” asked the consultant.
The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
The consultant then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, walk and talk with my wife, take a nap in my hammock, and simply enjoy my life on the island. In the evenings, I watch the sun set and the lights on the ‘Big Mac’ bridge begin to twinkle against the night sky. I walk into town and have a beer with my friends, chat with tourists, and watch the ferry boats come in from the mainland. In short, I have a great life,” replied the fisherman.
The consultant shook his head and offered: “I have an MBA from the University of Michigan, and I can change your life. All you have to do is start fishing longer every day and start selling the extra fish you catch. With that additional income, you can soon buy yourself a real, fully equipped fishing boat. Using that bigger boat, you’ll soon have even more money to invest allowing you to add a second boat, then a third and so on until you have a large fleet. Instead of selling your catch to neighbors and tourists, you can negotiate directly with processing plants and maybe even open your own plant some day. You can then leave this small island and move to a large city where you can then direct the empire which you have created.”
“How long do you think that would take?” inquired the fisherman.
“Oh, probably no longer than 15 or 20 years,” replied the consultant.
“And then what?” asked the fisherman.
“That’s the beauty of this entire strategy,” said the consultant smiling broadly. “When your business reaches its pinnacle, you can start selling shares in your company and make millions of dollars!”
“No kidding, millions? Really? And then what?” pressed the fisherman.
“Then you reap the benefits of all your hard work. You can retire back here on the island, sleep late, fish a little, play with your children, walk and talk with your wife, take a nap in your hammock, and really enjoy your life on your island. In the evenings, you can watch the sun set and the lights on the ‘Big Mac’ bridge begin to twinkle against the night sky. You can walk into town and have a beer with your friends, chat with tourists, and watch the ferry boats come in from the mainland. In short, you’ll have a great life,” said the consultant.