Mind over managing: A tale of two fishies
Daniel K Reece
This article is more than 7 years old.
The late US author David Foster Wallace told a story in a commencement speech he was asked to give at Kenyon College in the US.
It went something like this: Two young fish are swimming along one morning when an older fish comes along in the opposite direction. “Morning boys. How’s the water?” the older fish says to the younger two. They continue swimming until one looks at the other and says: “What the hell is water?”
The point of the story is that some of the most important and obvious aspects of our everyday realities are the ones that are the most difficult to see.
The speech put this in the context of higher education, giving students the ability to learn how to think – not in the usual way this line is trotted out to undergraduates – the ability to think clearly, analytically, and in a structured manner – but instead to realise that we have a conscious choice regarding how we think.
It underlines how we can choose our reactions to everyday banalities and irritations rather than face them on automatic pilot, and thereby not miss some of the most vital aspects of our day-to-day lives.
Tuning out of the endless static of modern life is something that has become increasingly difficult, not least with the constant stream of media, work and social information available to us through our smartphones. The temptation to look for new emails, or see the latest headline out there about Donald Trump, is constant.
This is especially so with the all-pervasive feeling that the world as we know it is in a precarious state – with war, terrorism, and economic and political uncertainty a facet of everyday life.
Real life is out there
Nevertheless, here we are, living our everyday lives with all of its mundanities.
This is where we make a difference; this is where we live our lives. This is where compassion for a lousy driver can make a difference to your life and theirs by a friendly smile rather than a raised middle finger. This is where a kind word to a colleague can change both your days for the better. This is where resisting another urge to look at your phone, and instead taking a deep breath and looking around you, can make the world seem an infinitely better place.
As Wallace said, remember that “this is water. This is water.”
Daniel K Reece
Daniel is the managing director of Nordeq Management (nordeqmanagement.com), managing cross-border investment projects with a focus on international corporate and tax law issues. Educated as a lawyer, Daniel also teaches in the International Business and Global Economics department at DIS Copenhagen. Daniel is passionate about mindfulness as a means of personal transformation.
Danish lifestyle among the healthiest in the world
Nevertheless, its eight place ranking was the worst of any Nordic nation
Life in Denmark
My ♥ CPH: “Being expats in Copenhagen, we have the best of both worlds”
Erdogan gobbled up majority of diaspora votes in Denmark
Over 60 percent of Turks living in Denmark voted in favour of incumbent leader in the run-off election on Sunday
Performance Review: Political and pottery contexts aside, we were moved by this charismatic cabaret
Denmark looking to legalise abortion for 15-year-olds without parental consent
As speculation mounts about the PM heading to NATO, party soldiers ponder the future
Uffe Jørgensen Odde
Navigating the Changing Landscape: Tips for Businesses in the Digital Age in Denmark
This content is sponsored
Popcorn and penalties at the Parkeringhus penthouse – Vesterbro’s latest skyline attraction
DGI Byens Arena will offer rooftop mini football