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How Easily We Get Work Life Balance Wrong

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How Easily We Get Work Life Balance Wrong
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This post is the fourth in a series looking at Work Life Balance. I’m sure you have all heard this story before, but like all good parables its worth sharing again. I first heard this when attending a Tony Robbins workshop in London many years ago.

To read the first in the series – Are you struggling with work life balance?
To read the second in the series – What is work life balance?
To read the third in the series – Signs Your Work Life Balance Is Out Of Sync

The Fisherman

Once upon a time there was a City Banker. He lived in Central London, was phenomenally successful, and made a ton of money. But his life was very busy, incredibly so, and of course very stressful.

So, once a year, he was able to escape and get away, only for two weeks, but at least he was able to get that time off. He would vacation in the same place every year. He had no internet or phone connection, just as his doctor had ordered, he was able to totally cut himself off from work for this period. He went to a small fishing villages along the coast of Asturias in Spain. For two weeks he would rest, relax, and allow himself to be rejuvenated.

He slept late. . . . fished. . . . took a siesta with his wife. . . . had dinner in a Spanish taverna in the local village.

One day he was standing on the pier just before lunch, looking out to sea, when he noticed a small fishing boat coming back in to dock. He thought this was a little strange because most of the fishermen stayed out late into the afternoon so they could obviously catch as many fish as possible before coming in and preparing the fish for market. This was way earlier than he’d ever seen a fisherman return.

Curiosity overcame him. So he walked over to where the fishing boat was about to dock. Looking into the boat, he saw just one fisherman and several large fish, but that was it.

“How long did it take you to catch those fish?” he said to the fisherman.

“Not very long,” the fisherman replied with a smile.

“Is there something wrong with your boat?” the Banker asked.

“Oh, no,” the fisherman said. “In twenty years I have never had a problem with the boat.”

The Banker was a little perplexed, so he asked the fisherman, “Why don’t you stay out there longer and catch more fish?”

The fisherman smiled again and said, “There is plenty here for my family right now. Some of the fish we can eat, and the others we can sell or trade for the other things we need.”

How Easily We Get Work-Life Balance Wrong

“But it’s not even lunchtime. What do you do with the rest of your time?” The banker said.

“In the morning,” the fisherman explained, “I like to sleep late. When I wake I fish a little, mostly just for the pleasure of fishing. In the afternoon I play with my children and take siesta with my wife. In the evenings I have dinner with my family. And then, when my children are sleeping, I stroll into the village, where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends.”

The Banker looked dumfounded and said, “I’m a successful Banker and I can help you.”

The fisherman was a little sceptical, but out of politeness asked “How?”

“You should fish longer every day,” the Banker advised.

That will enable you to catch more fish and make more money, and you can buy a bigger boat. With the bigger boat you will catch even more fish and make even more money, and then you can buy another boat and hire another man to work the second boat, to catch more fish, to make more money.”

“But what then?” the fisherman inquired.

“Oh, we are just getting started! With two boats you’ll catch so much fish and make so much money, and before you know it, you’ll have a whole fleet of boats and every man in the village looking for work will come to you.”

“But what then?” the fisherman asked.

“Before too long, you can cut out the middleman, sell your fish direct to the cannery, and make more money. As your fleet of boats continues to expand, you can build your own cannery. And before you know it, you’ll be able to leave this small coastal village, move to Madrid, and manage your expanding enterprise.”

“But what then?” the fisherman persisted.

“Well, then you can begin to ship your fish to different parts of the world. Across Europe, down into Asia and Australia and up into North America. And as demand grows for your fish, you can leave Madrid, move to London, open a distribution plant there, and begin to ship your fish to every corner of the globe. You will be making more money than you ever dreamed you could earn in ten lifetimes.”

“How long will all this take?” the fisherman asked.

“Twenty-five, maybe thirty years,” the banker explained.

“But what will I do then?” the fisherman asked.

“Well, then you could move to a small coastal village. . . . You could sleep late. . . . You could fish just for the pleasure of fishing. . . . In the afternoons you could take siesta with your wife. . . . In the evenings you could have dinner with your family . . . and then you could stroll into the village and sip wine and play guitar with your friends. . . .”

Can we really tell when our work life balance is out of sync. Maybe at times we get our priorities confused, and we really forget how to live.

In the next section you’re going to analyse your life balance, and with certainty know what you have to do to bring about change and reach a healthy happy work life balance.

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I hope you took some great value out of this post today! I’d love to hear your feedback, so make sure you leave a comment with your thoughts or questions.

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About the author: Larry Lewis
I'm Larry. As an Executive Life Coach, entrepreneur and writer, I am an unshakable optimist dedicated to helping you become the person you most want to be. I am devoted to sharing ideas, tools and resources that will help you create a better, stress free, well balanced life.

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