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The Executive and the Fisherman

I've been telling this story for years. I don't remember where I heard it.

A young businessman was with his buddies on vacation, and they hired a deep sea fishing boat to take them out for the day. It was quiet for a while, and the businessman and the captain of the boat got to talking.

"So what do you do?" asked the captain.

"Well, I work at Acme Paper, managing a local distribution center."

"Ah. Do you like the work?"

"Well, no," said the businessman. "But if I work hard, and do a good job, I'll get promoted."

"What will you do then?" asked the captain.

"Well, I'll be in charge of a regional distribution center. And I'll have to work even harder, but if I do well, I'll get promoted again."

"I see. What then?" asked the captain.

"I'll have to work harder than ever," said the businessman. "But if I do a good job, I'll get to retire with a really nice nest egg in the bank, and I can relax and enjoy life."

"Ah!" said the captain. "What will you do then?"

"I'm going to live by the ocean, " said the businessman, "And in the mornings I'll go fishing, and in the evenings my wife and I will walk into town and go dancing."

"That sounds wonderful," said the captain.

The young businessman asked, "So, Captain, what do you do with your days?"

"Well, I live by the ocean. And in the mornings I go fishing, and in the evenings my wife and I walk into town and go dancing."

Now, I've been telling that story for years. But I didn't know it was a modern version of an earlier conversation between none other than the philosopher Diogenes and Alexander the Great. The stakes in that earlier conversation were somewhat higher.

Diogenes asked Alexander, "What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to conquor and subjugate Greece."

"Ah. And then?"

"Well, I'm going to conquor and subjugate all of Asia."

"Mmm. And then?"

"I'm going to conquor the whole world!"

"And then?"

Alexander thought a moment. "Well, I guess I'll relax and enjoy myself."

The philosopher said to Alexander, "It seems to me you could save yourself a lot of trouble if you'd just relax and enjoy yourself now."

Readers' Comments

Truer words were never spoken.
Meagan | 01/15/09 6:15PM
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