1. From Rags to Riches

Marc was the poorest man in town. He worked long hours on his father’s small farm only to make barely enough money to survive. Even the poorest of women did not want to marry a man as poor as Mark. Once, he proposed to a very poor woman in the neighborhood; but she said sarcastically, “Why would I jump from the frying pan into the fire?!”
One day Marc went to see one of his distant relatives in a faraway land. There he found the relative’s daughter, Marie, living by herself, after her father’s death. She was also as poor as Marc, though well educated. Marc did not want to let her fend for herself because it could be dangerous for her. He asked her if she would like to marry him. She agreed.
After marriage, both of them worked very hard on Marc’s father’s farm. They became quite successful. Since the farm was very small in size, they rented land from their neighbors. Marie advised him to buy farmland with the extra money they saved. With Marie’s efficient management, they soon had the biggest and most productive farm of all. Even the animals were thriving. Their cows were the healthiest in the city. And so many people would only buy their milk from them.
After a few years of hard work, Marie and Marc hired people to work in the fields so they could manage the office. Marie advised him to buy a cannery so that they could can what they could not sell. Soon they began canning all kinds of farm products which they were able to export.
As Marc became more and more successful, he forgot his poor past and became more and more proud. He began boasting about his successes wherever he went. “I am the richest man in the land. I have the biggest farm in the county. I produce the best milk. My products go all over the world. There is nothing I cannot do,” he bragged. Now

people grew tired of his never-ending bragging that his boasting became the talk of the town.

When the mayor heard about Marc’s bragging, he decided to teach him a lesson, and invited him to his office.  When Marc received the invitation, he thought that he would be getting a reward from the mayor for his success.  He bragged, “Even the mayor appreciates my achievements…truly I am the greatest!”

The next day, Marc went to meet the mayor in his office. “Good morning, Sir,” greeted the mayor.  “I understand you have been telling people you are the best farmer in the city.” 

“Well, Sir, I do produce the best animals, the best fruits, and the best vegetables” said Marc, pleased with himself.

“I heard that there is nothing you cannot do – is that correct?” asked the mayor.

“That is true, Sir,” boasted Marc.

“If that is so, it should be easy for you to bring me three things,” said the mayor.

“Certainly!” exclaimed Marc.

“First, I want you to bring me a rooster who can fly over the moon; second, a cow as big as Mount Everest; and third, enough milk to fill the ocean.  I believe it will be an easy task for you,” the mayor said with a smirk.  With those words he said goodbye to Marc.

Mark scratched his head in perplexed dismay as he left the mayor’s office.  “These are impossible things to accomplish.  Yet, I cannot refuse his request.  Roosters do not fly, but he wants me to find one that can fly over the moon!  People will laugh at me.  What shall I do?” worried Marc.  He brought the sad news to Marie, who laughed and replied, “Don’t worry, Marc.  Go back to the mayor and take this yardstick, bucket, and scale.”  But Marc, still worried, replied, “I don’t think it will do any good.”

But the next day, Marc went to see the mayor, and did exactly what his wife told him to do.  The mayor was very impressed with Marc and said,  “You are a very clever man.  When I made the request yesterday, I noticed you were very distressed, but today you have clever answers.  How can that be?” asked the mayor.  Marc answered, “Sir, I am not a clever man.  I am just a hardworking man who has a very clever and wise wife.  She tells me what to do.  We became successful only because of her intelligence and wisdom and my hard work.  I am not more than a peasant without her.”

The mayor said, “Only wise men admit their weakness and tell the truth.  Forget about the demands I made of you yesterday.  Please ask your wife if she would like to be on the city’s advisory board.  We need some smart people who truly have wisdom.”

Marie accepted the mayor’s offer, and the entire city became prosperous; and Mark was, indeed, the happiest of husbands.

 

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing.” (Peter Drucker)

2. The Talking Skull

A man walking in a desert spied a skull, and said to it, “I am curious to know what brought you here.”  

The skull answered, “My mouth brought me here.”

A short conversation ensued, and the traveler expressed a need to understand how the skull’s mouth could have brought him to the place where he lay.  So the skull answered him by saying, “I will show you.  Go west for one mile, and you will find the answer.  But do not tell anyone that I told you.  If you do you will be sorry.”

The traveler thanked the skull and resumed his journey.

On his travels, he found a bag of gold which he took home.  He told his wife about the gold.  Soon everyone in his small village knew about the gold, even the king who summoned him to court.  The judge in the court asked the man, “How did you find this treasure?”

The man, forgetting the warning of the skull, quickly replied, “A skull in the desert told me.”

“You are a liar,” said the judge. “I have never heard of a skull that can talk.  If you do not tell me the truth, which means that you stole this gold, I shall order you to be put to death.”

“You will believe me if I take you to the skull,” said the man who had been traveling. 

He then led the judge and guards to the skull, and begged the skull, “Please tell everyone that you told me where to find this treasure.”  The skull did not utter a word.  The man pleaded, “Skull, please tell these people that I am not a liar, and that you directed me to find this treasure.”  Still the skull said nothing. The man threw himself on the ground and continued to beg the skull to talk, but the skull maintained his silence.

The outraged judge gave an immediate order to have the man killed, then and there. So the guards killed the man.  After a period of time, one could find two skulls lying


next to one another in the desert. And if one were to listen closely, one would hear the first skull saying to the second skull, “See, my friend, how your mouth brought you here in the same way that my mouth brought me here.”

If you keep your mouth shut you will never put your foot in it.”  (Austin O’Malley)