The Gift Of Work
Once upon a time, an old man was dying in his home. His three sons hung around his bed anxiously waiting for him to tell them where he kept his secret gold stash. When they were children, they worked with their father on the farm. But they were lazy and hated the hard work on the farm. When they got older, they relocated to the city where they thought that life was going to be easier. But life was tough in the city. After many years of struggle, they did not achieve the elusive success they dreamed of. They all believed that the old man had some money hidden somewhere which would make their lives more comfortable. This was their inheritance and they were going to get their share.
The dying man opened his eyes and asked for a drink of water. The youngest son gave him a drink and he lay silent for a few minutes. He opened his eyes again and tried to speak. His voice was very weak and shaky. They all strained to hear his final words. Before he could utter a word, he was caught in a spasm of coughing. The children were getting impatient. They had plans for the evening. If the old man wanted to die, he should do it quickly, they thought.
‘The gold…the gold… is buried in the land…’ His weak voice trailed off.
‘Dad,’ the youngest son knelt beside him. ‘Dad, did you say that the gold is in the land?’ He asked with anxiety in his voice.
The old man shook his head slowly. ‘The gold…in the land, gold…in…the land….’he said again, smiled and gave up the ghost.
‘So that is where he hid his gold,’ said the eldest son. ‘Let’s go dig it out,’ said the middle born. So, the three of them took shovels and hoes and started digging the land, searching for the hidden treasure. The work got a bit tough for them so they hired some labourers to help with the digging. After 3 months of digging they did not find any gold. The eldest son called for an emergency meeting.
‘We have searched for gold for the past 90 days and we found nothing. In the process of searching, we have prepared the ground for planting. I suggest we sow some wheat so that our labour won’t go to waste.’ The other two brothers reluctantly agreed to his plan. A couple of months later, as the three brothers stood watching the labourers harvest the golden sheaves of wheat, it dawned on them what their father meant when he told them that the gold was hidden in the field. The gold was the harvest of wheat! Their dad had tricked them into doing the farm work they hated by promising them gold. And indeed, they eventually found gold in the land.
Your talent will not produce by itself, it requires work to unleash its potential. One of your greatest allies in life is your ability to work. Successful people value their work and pay attention to it. The not too successful do not pay attention to their work. I have come to discover that one of the reasons why some people are at the top of their profession and others are not is their attitude to work.
Work is the instrument by which your talent will be developed. When you utilize your talent, you stretch it, you build it, you develop it. Work helps you to unlock the latent forces which lie untapped within you. Work helps you to reach deep within you to pull out some resources which will amaze you. The more you work, the more you discover something interesting about your talent which you never realized. There are so many things you can do with your talent but unless you engage yourself in productive work, you will never discover them.
It was Kahlil Gibran who wrote “Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love, but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”
Some people see work as a curse, but the truth is that work is a blessing. If you want to know the meaning of hell, sit at home for three days doing nothing. Try it out and see how you will feel. If you do not become sick because of boredom, the arrival of bills will wake you up to the stupidity of your actions. Work is the gift which enables you pay the bills! Did you get that? If you don’t have the money to pay the bills, you will soon be out on the streets without a roof over your head. Every time you sleep in your bed at night, remember that it is the gift of work which enabled you to have this basic necessity of life.
Excerpted from The Gift of Work (c) 2011 by Praise George