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Trade Routes: Learning to Swim in the Global Market

By: Michael Wynne
Posted: October 13, 2008, from the March 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

A scientist separated an aquarium into two halves by placing a glass partition in the middle. In one half, he placed a number of small fish. In the other, he placed a large predator fish.

Within seconds, the predator spotted the little fish and dashed after them. Swimming at full speed, the predator smacked right into the glass partition. Stunned, it hesitated and hovered in one place for a few seconds. Recovering from the blow, the predator lunged forward again. Once more, it smashed into the glass partition.

In a near frenzy, the predator assaulted the invisible barrier time and again. Finally, reality sank in and it gave up. After a while, the predator swam around its half of the tank ignoring the fish at the other end.

A few hours later, the scientist removed the glass partition. The predator continued to swim around its half of the aquarium, and never once attempted to cross to the other side. It would have starved to death in the midst of plenty had the scientist not returned it to another tank where it was fed regularly.

This story has several morals:

  1. Circumstances change.
  2. You can starve in the midst of plenty.
  3. Obstacles rarely are permanent, but not trying to move them can make them immovable.
  4. Your mind is the only limit to the size of your market.