Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
A Confession
Are You a Shark or a Goldfish?
A Wave of Change
Embrace and Ride the Wave of Change
Stay Positive
Thrive because of Change
A Shark School for Goldfish
Start Your Own Shark School for Goldfish
Food for Thought
Also by Jon Gordon . . .
About the Illustrator


For my brother David Gordon,
who suggested that I write this story.
Your idea and encouragement made this book possible.
Thank you.

A Confession
I recognize the fact that in real life goldfish cannot survive in the ocean’s saltwater—and that fish really can’t talk, either. ☺ This is an imaginary story meant to convey an important message. After all, Mickey Mouse, Shrek, Nemo, and Superman are invented characters as well.
Also, if you read this book to your children, please remind them not to take goldfish to the beach.

If you are concerned about the future and anxious about your situation, I know how you feel. I lost my job in 2001 during the dot-com bust. The company was losing money faster than we could raise it and eventually the company sank faster than the Titanic. I thought it was the worst event of my life. I was two months away from being bankrupt. I had a wife, two young children, a mortgage, no health insurance, and very little savings. I was a paycheck away from losing it all. It sounds bad. It felt bad. Seen from one point of view I suppose it was bad. But one day I decided that I wasn’t going to let this challenge take me down. And that’s when I knew I had to change what I was thinking and doing.
I read a few books, which empowered me to take control of my financial future and helped me make some important decisions through the change. Eventually these decisions would lead to the work I do now as a writer, consultant, and speaker. I often joke that I went from Fired to Fired Up. My layoff led to my life’s mission and purpose. What I thought was the worst event in my life actually lead to the best. I realized that dealing with waves of change is all about how we perceive and respond to the change we are facing.
Fast forward to today. I now do a lot of work with leaders and organizations to create positive change. With so many people and organizations affected by the current economy it occurred to me that we need a new model for dealing with the new waves of change in our work and in our lives. After all, in today’s world the cheese hasn’t just been moved—it’s been swept away by a tsunami of an economic crisis. As a result, I felt compelled to write this book.
While on a plane traveling to speak to a commercial real estate company in California, I wrote this story. Four hours of divine inspiration later, The Shark and the Goldfish was born. It was an amazing experience. During my talk, I read a short version of the story and it was so well received that since then I have read it to thousands of people and the impact has been very exciting and encouraging. People are making real changes and experiencing real and positive results.
I know the story is simple. There are critics who mock simple books—they believe that books have to be long and complicated to be significant. But I have found that the closer we get to truth, the simpler and more powerful the lessons become. I think you will agree, and most of all I hope this book empowers you to take positive action to ride the waves of change in your life and at work.
There’s a belief that most people embark on a quest to find their destiny. But more often than not, through adversity and challenges, our destiny finds us. It is during these times that we ask the important questions and make decisions that positively change the course of our lives. And I believe one of the most important questions you can ask is whether you are a shark or a goldfish. Which one are you?

Are You a Shark or a Goldfish?
Which one are you? Are you a Shark or a Goldfish? After reading this story, let us know at SG@jongordon.com.
We’d love to hear from you.

A Wave of Change
Gordy the goldfish lived a wonderful and simple life. He ate, slept, swam, and did twirls in the water any time his humans approached to feed him. He never wanted for anything, especially food. Food was abundant and he was prosperous. Life was good.
Then one day he was swept up in a net, put in a bag full of water, and carried to the beach by his boy. The boy wanted to play with his goldfish at the beach. So he dug a big hole in the sand, filled it with buckets of water, and placed his goldfish in his own private man-made lake. Laughter filled the air and everyone was happy.