Friday, January 30, 2009

What Are We Doing Now?

Often in our lives we strife to achieve as much and as high as we can. When we were students (ok, most of you are still students) we were told to score as much As as possible, 7As, 9As..even 18As? Crazy. Do they really have so many subjects these days? Lucky I belong to the “older” days :)

Later on when we are working, most of us will aim to have our own business, especially guys. And if we’re working, we aim to be the CEOs or COOs of multi national companies. (remember those days when teachers ask us to write our ambitions, and the boy next to you wrote “policeman”?) In our journey to the top, we had probably neglected a lot of other important things in life. Maybe our relationships, or maybe our Christian walk. I don’t know. What I do know is there are many things that we can do to enjoy life to the fullest, such as going fishing, playing the guitar, or taking a sip of wine now and then. Things that we have no time to do unless it’s public holiday.

I recently read an article from the Star Biz and it caught my attention as it’s on one of my favourite CEO, Datuk Seri Idris Jala. Some of you may not know him, but I’m sure you are more than likely to have “use his products”, as he is none other than the captain of MAS. Oh, he is also a Christian by the way.
The article talks about his life passion, how he still finds time to go to church every week, his passion for music (he plays guitar in a high end club occasionally) and his love for fishing. He even said this – “Once I went fishing (on) Vancouver Island. The skyline was beautiful and we caught fish and ate it with wine. That was such a perfect moment. And I thought, that would be such a perfect way to die!”
For someone who has managed to turn an airline from incurring heavy loses to making substantial profits in just 3 years to say that, it really speaks volume. It shows that in life there is indeed much more than just making money or climbing the corporate ladder, even for a CEO.

Let me end my post with this story:

An investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna.

The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.”

The banker then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The fisherman said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

The banker then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, go for walks with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends. As you can see, I have a full and busy life.”

The banker scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and can help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat! 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 processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution.

“You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to the capital city. After that, who knows, maybe you could take on the world!”

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

To which the banker replied, “I’d say about 15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right, you would announce an IPO (public listing of a company) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions?…Then what?” the fisherman continued prodding.

The banker said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, go for romantic walks with your wife, and in the evenings you could sip wine, play guitar and sing songs with your friends!”
To which the fisherman mused, “Now, isn’t that strange? Isn’t that what I’m doing now?”
Reading Idris Jala’s story, I am happy that despite the busyness of corporate life, he still goes fishing, plays the guitar, and takes a sip of wine now and then.
Surely, he must be in the right job right now. What about us? Maybe life really doesn’t need to be that complicated after all.

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