Measuring Success and the American Dream

Mike Schoultz
3 min readApr 12, 2020

Measuring success in the American Dream.

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.

–Galileo Galilei

What’s your dream? Are you thinking of measuring success? Would you sacrifice what you already have?

Here is a very interesting story about how we should think of measuring success … will it change your life?

From a different perspective, see our article on differences in perception.

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.

Only a little while“, the Mexican replied.

Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.

I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs“, the Mexican said.

But” the American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?

The Mexican fisherman said: “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed: “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, you could buy a bigger boat and, with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked: “But senor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied: “15–20 years.”

But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said: “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO — an Initial Public Offering — and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.

Millions, senor? Then what?

The American said slowly: “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

Key takeaways

So, how do you measure success? Is it a whole life measurement? Do you have a story to share with this community on how you measure success?



Mike Schoultz

Mike Schoultz writes about improving the performance of business. Bookmark his blog for stories and articles.