How Big Is Your Goldfish Bowl?

How Big Is Your Goldfish Bowl?

Is your environment really limiting your personal growth?

Over the years I've heard lots of animal stories that reinforce ideas about people and business. They can put both clearly in perspective - even when they're not even true.

The humble goldfish has long been used for this very purpose.

It's said that a goldfish can be kept in a small bowl because, with a three-second memory, they never get bored or tired of seeing the same thing. By the time they swim round the bowl, they've already forgotten where they started. Ironically, this myth likely surfaced as justification for keeping goldfish in small bowls in the first place.

The other widely quoted myth is that goldfish only grow as large as they need to; that they grow to fit the size of their environment, and no larger. In a small tank they'll grow to about two inches. The bigger their environment, the more challenges they can face and the larger they can grow. The truth, of course, is totally different.

When properly cared for, goldfish never stop growing - in fact they're known as indeterminate growers. So, unlike humans, goldfish keep growing, physically, until they die! However, what really stunts a goldfish's growth is poor water quality and improper care and nurturing. With little or no filtration and infrequent water changes, they suffer. Their stunted growth is, therefore, merely a sign of ill health, not their inability to grow any bigger.

If a fish kept in a small tank is moved to a larger one in most cases it will put on a growth spurt as it takes advantage of its improved environment. This can add to the illusion that it ‘grew to the size’ of the small tank and is now ‘growing to the size’ of the new, bigger one.

The irony is, whether we reflect on the myths or the truth of this story, there's a lesson or two for us all.

Are you in too safe and comfortable an environment so there's no longer a priority for you to grow?

Or, are you in an environment where your growth is being restricted by others?

Is it a toxic environment, with other people polluting the 'water', where fresh ideas and opportunities are neither looked for nor allowed to flourish?

How many of us are conditioned to swim round our own goldfish bowl, believing that our "comfort zone" is big enough?

This mindset often starts early, when we're at school. We work our way up to being a "big fish" in primary school, then we're yanked unceremoniously from our tank, and hurled headlong into the big pond called high school, where we return to the role of the small fish.

How do we break this cycle that's repeated again and again throughout life?

First, we can continually challenge ourselves to fail at something new, because this is the only way we'll win; we can embrace the consistency of change and move with it, not attempt to hold it back; and we can become lifelong learners, seeking out and absorbing new ideas.

So, unlike the goldfish, we can influence both our own environment and that of the people around us; we can dramatically expand our comfort zone and we can directly influence what we're fed and what we feed others to ensure we continue to grow mentally, if not physically, until the day we die.

How big is your goldfish bowl?


David Floyd

First On The Beach




Excuses will always be there for you – opportunities won’t!


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