Someone said we humans are like cabbages (don’t ask me who) and I perfectly agree. We come in different layers, shapes sizes and have different tastes.
These layers are exposed by the experiences we get daily. Our challenges, successes and ‘failures’ peel us revealing that which we are really made of. (I hear that is why we often say we didn’t know somebody was like that). A lot of people for example would say they can’t run and may even give you medical proof. Let a dog loose after them and they may as well break Bolt’s record. The ability was there but lay inactive. It happens to me all the time. Sometimes I would give myself reasons why I would not attend an event or a class (even when I know it is for my good) and the next minute maybe after being told there are threats or rewards, I am fully prepared to attend.
Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great. – Fernando Flores
A few days ago at a conference, one of the speakers told a story that perfectly related to my experience. It was about the Japanese fishermen:
With the absence of fish along their coast, they would have to go very far out to sea and by the time they return, their catch would have lost its freshness as they were stored in freezers. They then resolved to bringing home the fish alive by storing them in tanks. Still yet, most of their catch was not fresh when they got to shore because the water was not moving. Then a solution was brought about. Small sharks were put in the tanks to keep the fish moving. Their constant movement (change) kept them alive. So there is fresh fish in Japan.
Knowledge is a step by step process. The fishermen did not just wake up one day and put sharks in the tank. They started with the fish then the rest followed. That is why they say you can’t give two steps at once. Try it.
Desire. The fishermen had the desire to give more to their customers and families back home. This desire made them to go the extra mile. Plato put it right; ‘Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge’. The desire for the fishing companies to meet up with or surpass their competitors also had a role to play.
Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself. – Samuel Butler
Then the real lesson.
The sharks. Sometimes we need sharks in our lives to keep us alive by making us move. Imagine you have no boss, no one to call you to order at work or when you go astray; your productivity will fall sharply. If not of that stern landlord, you may not build a house of your own, if that driver did not overcharge or insult you, you may never have thought of getting a car of your own, if they hadn’t laughed at you the last time you failed that test you may not have scored a pass mark in this one. Examples abound but the bottom line remains; no pain, no gain. The fun about it is that whether or not the fish tried running while in the tanks, the shark would still chase. Life’s sharks never stop chasing so why should you stop running?
I sat there enjoying the lesson when something hit me. Certainty. Wether at sea, in the tanks or at shore, the fish caught were all certain of death – just like all humans. What next? It is very common for us to live without thinking of the future (tomorrow) and the after future (death). Our layers are not everlasting. They will eventually get finish. Like it or not, we cabbages are in the race already and it will be wise planning how the finish would look like. Planning for the future doesn’t only give us peace of mind but also helps us set clearer and better goals for ourselves.