Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Big Fish/Little Fish Question

By: George Lee Cunningham some point in almost everybody’s life they have heard the question. Do you want to be the big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?

It’s one of those questions for which there is no correct answer. And like most such analogous questions, it begins to unravel the minute you begin to analyze it. For one thing, we’re not fish. And we don’t live in ponds. And even if we were or did, the question misses the point.

The question really is, do you want to be a leader or a follower and where do you want to do it. In the world where people live, leadership is a spectrum. On one end of that spectrum the correct answer would be, I would rather be a big fish in a big pond and on the other end, I would rather be a little fish in a little pond.

Even the most powerful leaders have to answer to someone, whether it’s his customers, the voters, or his own conscience. And even the most humble follower has somewhere within him a spark of rebellion that at some point says enough is enough. I am going to follow my own path.

Most of humanity is somewhere in the middle. They have a boss and they are a boss. The captain of the ship reports to an admiral. The doctor reports to his patient. The teacher reports to the principal.

If you live in a small town, you may rise to become one of the prominent and powerful people in town and change the lives of hundreds of people you see every day and still have time for other pursuits. If you live in a big city, you may rise to become a powerful and famous person and change the lives of thousands or even millions of people – most of whom you don’t know – but you end up devoting your life to that one pursuit.

Big fish? Little fish? Who cares?

Try to be a happy fish. The rest will take care of itself.

George and Carmela Cunningham are writing a history of the Port of Long Beach. You can order George’s new book, KABOOM, on You can contact George at GEORGE@READERPUBLISHING.COM



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