The Goldfish Metaphor
November 12, 2021
Goldfish are an interesting species.
When put in a small bowl, a Goldfish stays small, growing to about 2 to 3 inches at best.
However, Goldfish will naturally grow to a large size when they are put in the right conditions. These conditions include plenty of pond or tank space, good water quality, warm water temperatures, and access to nutritious food. Goldfish can grow up to 18 inches, almost six times their average size when put in the right environment.
How does this happen?
Goldfish release a couple of unique growth hormones when put in clean and large water bodies. These hormones, aminobutyric acid (GABA) and somatostatin, are responsible for them to grow in size. However, when contained in a small bowl, the Goldfish automatically reduces the secretion of these two hormones, and its growth is stunted.
The Goldfish grows according to the environment it finds itself in.
Humans are much the same. If we operate in a secure environment without risk or competition, we evolve to be as big as a little goldfish. But, if we move around, take on new challenges, explore new opportunities, engage with smarter people- a bit like the Goldfish going into a bigger pond- we naturally expand and live a bigger life. Our environment shapes the kind of person we evolve into.
The Goldfish is a good metaphor for a simple mental model.
Always seek out a bigger bowl to operate in. When you engage with high-quality environments and high-quality people, you will naturally evolve into a high-quality individual.