What do a Mexican fisherman and a little Italian restaurant in Thailand have in common? No this is not a cheesy joke. Let’s explore…
The Mexican Fisherman
“Then you would retire and 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, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”
The Little Italian Restaurant in Thailand
I drew parallels to the story of the Mexican Fisherman with an experience I had in Thailand. While visiting the small island of Koh Tao, my girlfriend and I came across a lovely little Italian restaurant called Thaita. This place was fantastic. It was probably the best Italian food I have ever had, and I’m part Italian. And this was in Thailand!
Thaita is rated as the top place to eat on TripAdvisor in Koh Tao. But they only have a handful of tables in the restaurant. It filled up very early. Many people would show up and be turned away.
What was the first thing that came to my mind? “They don’t use their space very well in this restaurant. They could easily fit in a few more tables to make more money.” I was convinced that I could help them make their business more “successful.”
I can’t believe how foolish I was. I was like the American tourist in the above story. The owners of Thaita didn’t care about the money. Sure they needed to cover their costs and living expenses, but they had no desire to be rich. By only having a small number of tables, the owners were able to personally greet the customers and explain the menu before they cooked the dishes. And this is what they loved to do. By having a larger restaurant, they wouldn’t be able to create the same experience for their guests.
I learned an important lesson here. Don’t try to get everyone to like you. Try to get a few people to love you. I’m sure the people who were turned away when the restaurant filled up were not happy. But I can guarantee you the few people who do get to eat each night love the place. I sure did.
Moral of the Stories
So what do the Mexican Fisherman and the little Italian restaurant in Thailand have in common? They live a rich lifestyle by doing what makes them happy. But they are not rich in the traditional sense. They do not have lots of money or lots of fame.
Albert Schweitzer once said: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” I’m sure the older Italian couple didn’t have the goal of becoming the top rated restaurant on the island when they started. Their success is a result of doing what they love.
If you don’t form your own definition of success, you will waste a lot of effort chasing someone else’s definition. Ignore the damn Joneses. We are hard-wired to believe that buying a four bedroom house in a nice neighborhood with a Ferrari parked in the driveway is the dream. And maybe this is your dream. But it is not for everyone.
Sleeping late, fishing a little, playing with the kids, taking a siesta with your significant other, and strolling to the village in the evenings to sip wine and play guitar with your amigos sounds pretty fulfilling to me. What do you think?