Leadership Motivation Quality Risk

A Shark In My Tank

I have just returned back from a trip to Asia, where I heard a magnificent story about Japanese fishermen. 

Japanese have always loved fresh fish. But the water close to Japan have not held many fish for decades; so the fishermen had to go further out to sea to catch their supply of fish. Fishing boats have gotten bigger and and went farther than ever.

Of course, the farther the fishermen go, the longer it takes to bring back the fish, and soon people began to complain the fish did not taste fresh.

To solve the problem, fishing companies installed freezers on their boats. They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea. Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer.

This seemed like a great solution, but the people could taste the difference between fresh and frozen and they did not like frozen fish; consequently, the frozen fish brought a lower price.

The fishing companies then decided to install fish tanks on their boats. They caught the fish then stuffed the live fish into tanks. After some initial thrashing, the fish would stop moving around and remain stagnant for a few days. The fish arrived to shore alive but were tired and dull

Unfortunately, the Japanese could still taste the difference; because the fish did not move for days, they lost their fresh-fish taste.

How did they find the solution to this problem?

The Japanese fishermen found their answer in a principle that also holds true for people — When people reach their goals and feel that there is nowhere else for them to go, they often lose their passion and become stale. People thrive in the presence of a challenging environment. And as it turns out, the same is true for fish.

To keep the fish tasting fresh, Japanese fishermen continued to use fish tanks on their boats, but they added a small shark to each tank. Although they lost a few fish in each tank in the process, the sharks kept the remaining fish as challenged as they had been in the ocean, and they arrived to shore in a lively state. These fish tasted fresh and the Japanese were able to do a great deal of fishing in deeper waters and come back with fish that met their high standards.

Put a shark in your tank, and see how much you can achieve

If your challenges are too large or too numerous, do not give up. Failing makes you tired. Instead of avoiding challenges, jump into them and enjoy the game. Challenges keep us motivated, and yes, keep us fresh!

If you have met your goals, set some bigger goals. Once you meet your personal or family needs, move onto goals for your group, society, and even mankind.

Don’t create success and lie in it.  You have the skills and abilities to make a difference.

In life, shark denotes a problem. Problems keep us challenged and energetic. The story of the shark in the fish tank may not be real but it is a great spiritual truth.

You have a challenge, You are alive!

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Dr. Khalid Abulmajd

Healthcare Quality Consultant

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