We live in a world that has become so obsessed with success and material wealth at the expense of all else. It’s very rare to see men and women of integrity who would hold on to their righteousness by all means. “The end justifies the means” is now the motto of several people, all in a bid to amass wealth. It is a tragedy!
Sometime last week, a colleague sent a story to me by mail. I had read this story a few times before now, but this time around, it made more sense to me. Can I share this story with you? It is an old Ghanaian fable.
“An aging king woke up one day to the realization that should he drop dead, there would be no male in the royal family to take his place. He was the last male in the royal family in a culture where only a male could succeed to the throne - and he was aging.
He decided that if he could not give birth to a male, he would adopt a son who then could take his place, but he insisted that such an adopted son must be extraordinary in every sense of the word. So he launched a competition in his kingdom, open to all boys, no matter what their background.
Ten boys made it to the every top. There was little to separate these boys in terms of intelligence and physical attributes and capabilities. The king said to them, "I have one
last test and whoever comes top will become my adopted son and heir to my throne."
Then he said, "This kingdom depends solely on agriculture. So the king must know how to cultivate plants. So here is a seed of corn for each of you. Take it home and plant and nurture it for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, we shall see who has done the best job of cultivating the seed. That person will be my heir-apparent. "
The boys took their seeds and hurried home. They each got a flower pot and planted the seed as soon as they got home. There was much excitement in the kingdom as the people waited with bated breath to see who was destined to be their next king.
In one home, the boy and his parents were almost heartbroken when after days of intense care, the seed failed to sprout. He did not know what had gone wrong with his. He had selected the soil carefully, he had applied the right quantity and type of fertilizer, he had been very dutiful in watering it at the right intervals, he had even prayed over it day and night and yet his seed had turned out to be unproductive.
Some of his friends advised him to go and buy a seed from the market and plant that. "After all," they said, "how can anyone tell one seed of corn from another?" But his parents who had always taught him the value of integrity reminded him that, if the king wanted them to plant any corn, he would have asked them to go for their own seed. "If you take anything different from what the king gave you, that would be dishonesty. Maybe we are not destined for the throne. If so, let it be but don't be found to have deceived the king," they told him.
The D-Day came, and the boys returned to the palace each of them proudly exhibiting a very fine corn seedling. It was obvious that the other nine boys had had great success with their seeds. The king began making his way down the line of eager boys and asked each of them "Is this came out of the seed I gave you?" And each boy responded, "Yes, your majesty." And the king would nod and move down the line. The king finally got to the last boy in the line-up. The boy was shaking with fear. He knew that the king was going to have him thrown into prison for wasting his seed.
"What did you do with the seed I gave you?" the king asked.
"I planted it and cared for it diligently, your majesty, but alas it failed to sprout." the boy said tearfully, as the crowd booed him.
But the king raised his hands and signaled for silence. Then he said, "My people behold your next king." The people were confused. "Why that one?" many asked. "How can he be the right choice?" The king took his place on his throne with the boy by his side and said, "I gave these boys boiled seeds. This test was not for cultivating corn. It was the test of character; a test of integrity. It was the ultimate test. If a king must have one quality, it must be that he should be above above dishonesty. Only this boy passed the test. A boiled seed cannot sprout." ”
The single most important quality you can ever develop that will enhance every part of your life is the value of integrity. Integrity is the core quality of a successful and happy life. Having integrity means being totally honest and truthful in every part of your life. By making the commitment to become a totally honest person, you will be doing more to ensure your success and happiness in life than anything else you can ever do.
Will you stand up to be counted with men of integrity?
I will share a bit more about Integrity in details in my next post. Till then, stay on top!
Monday, May 12, 2008
A couple of months ago, while on a flight (can’t remember to where again), I saw a movie that brought tears to my eyes. Now, I am not easily given to tears. I rarely ever cry. However, on this particular day, my tear glands were not supportive. The flood gate of my tears was thrown wide open and I couldn’t control tears from rolling down my cheeks. I am sure those around me would have wondered why an adult would be crying over a movie. About 3 weeks ago, I was privileged to see this movie again, and I had almost exactly the same feeling all over again. Aren’t you wondering too what movie I am talking about? I am talking about “Coach Carter”, a film directed by Thomas Carter. I strongly recommend you see the movie, if you’ve not seen it already
In 1999, Ken Carter, a successful sporting goods store owner, accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA, where he was a champion athlete. As much dismayed by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal play performance, Carter sets about to change both. He immediately imposes a strict regime typified in written contracts that include stipulations for respectful behavior, a dress code and good grades as requisites to being allowed to participate. The initial resistance from the boys is soon dispelled as the team under Carter's tutelage becomes an undefeated competitor in the games. However, when the overconfident team's behavior begins to stray and Carter learns that too many players are doing poorly in class, he takes immediate action. To the outrage of the team, the school and the community, Carter cancels all team activities and locks the court until the team shows acceptable academic improvement. In the ensuing debate, Carter fights to keep his methods, determined to show the boys that they need to rely on more than sports for their futures and eventually finds he has affected them more profoundly than he ever expected.
There was a scene that really moved me. The school board had just voted in favour of ending the lock out imposed by Coach Carter on basketball because of the dismal performance of several of his players in their academics. Before the vote, Coach Carter had already made a speech. He said “You really need to consider the message you're sending this boys by ending the lockout. It's the same message that we as a culture send to our professional athletes; and that is that they are above the law. If these boys cannot honor the simple rules of a basketball contract, how long do you think it will be before they're out there breaking the law? I played ball here at Richmond High 30 years ago. It was the same thing then; some of my teammates went to prison, some of them even ended up dead. If you vote to end the lockout, you won't have to terminate me; I'll quit” After the vote, he headed for the gym to pack a few belongings but was amazed to see all his players in the gym, with their books, reading and helping each other. They opined that though the board forced the gates of the gym opened by their votes, they could not force them to play basketball. Coach Carter was really moved by their action. Just while he was still soaking this in, one of his players, Timo Cruz, who had once had a difficult time with him, stood up and read this quote …
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
I suggest you read this quote, at least 2 more times.
The coach was so moved, almost to tears, and couldn’t help but say “Thanks You” to the whole team. He changed his mind about quitting. The team’s performance in class became much better and they continued winning basketball games, only loosing narrowly in the state finals. Most of them later went on to College and made the best of their lives.
Now, look at the quote again. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are powerful beyond measure. What a cool piece of writing. Nothing makes me sadder than someone doing something half minded because they are so scared of what might happen if they put everything into it and fail. You can do anything...yes anything, that you really make up your mind to do. Nothing can stop you, except you. You are powerful beyond measure.
Need I say anything more?