The Royal Servant . . .


Wisdom Story: “Royal Servant”

The King of Kamera in Africa was a proud and stern man, feared by all his subjects.

One day while sitting in his mud palace, surrounded by fawning courtiers and watched by a multitude of people who had come to see him, he was suddenly overcome by a sense of grandeur and loudly declared that he was master of the world and that all men were his servants.

“You are mistaken,” said a frail voice. “All men are servants of one another.”

A deathly silence followed the remark. The blood froze in the veins of the people assembled there. Then the king exploded in anger.

“Who said that!” he demanded, rising from the royal stool. “Who dares suggest that I am a servant!!”

“I do,” said a voice in the crowd, and the people parted to reveal a white-haired old man, leaning heavily on a stout stick.

“Who are you?” asked the king.

“I am Boubakar,” said the man. “We have no water in our village. I have come to ask for a well to be dug there.”

“So you are a beggar!” roared the king, striding down to where the man stood. “Yet you have the temerity to call me a servant!”

“We all serve one another,” said Boubakar, showing no fear, “and I will prove it to you before nightfall.”

“Do that,” said the monarch. “Force me to wait on you. If you can do that I will have not one but three wells dug in your village. But if you fail, you’ll lose your head!”

“In our village,” said the old man, “when we accept a challenge, we touch the person’s feet. Let me touch your feet. Hold my stick.”

The king took the stick and the old man bent down and touched the monarch’s feet.

“Now you may give it back to me,” he said, straightening up. The king gave him back his stick.

“Do you want any more proof?” asked Boubakar.

“Proof?” asked the king, bewildered.

“You held my stick when I asked you to and gave it back to me when I asked you for it,” said the old man. “As I said, all good men are servants of one another.”

The king was so pleased with the Royal Servant Boubakar’s wit and daring that he not only had wells dug in his village but also retained him as an adviser.”

Consider this: We all serve each other.

A Violin With Three Strings …


A Violin With Three Strings
Jack Riemer

On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.

If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is an awesome sight.

He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.

By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They
remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.

But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You
could hear it snap – it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.

We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage – to either find another violin or else find another string for this one. But he didn’t. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again.

The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before.

Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to
know that.

You could see him modulating, changing, re-composing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.

When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.

He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said – not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone – “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind ever since I heard it. And who knows? Perhaps that is the definition of life – not just for artists but for all of us.

Here is a man who has prepared all his life to make music on a violin of four strings, who, all of a sudden, in the middle of a concert, finds himself with only three strings; so he makes music with three strings, and the music he made that night with just three strings was more beautiful, more sacred, more memorable, than any that he had ever made before, when he had four strings.

So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left.

Consider this: Make some music today!

Perpectives . . .


Author Unknown

One day a father and his rich family took his young son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show him how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night in the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”

Very good, Dad!”

“Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked.


“And what did you learn?”

The son answered, “I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden, they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden, they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon.”

When the little boy was finishing, his father was speechless.

His son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are!”

Isn’t it true that it all depends on the way you look at things? If you have love, friends, family, health, good humor and a positive attitude toward life, you’ve got everything!

You can’t buy any of these things. You can have all the material possessions you can imagine, provisions for the future, etc., but if you are poor of spirit, you have nothing!

Consider this: What’s your perspective today?

Every Day Counts . . .


Many people who’ve read my latest book Meaningful: The story of ideas that fly say that the introduction impacted them the most. It would never have been written without a nudge from a trusted friend, who reminded me after he’d read the manuscript that some people might only read one page. We don’t always have the luxury of getting people to pay attention to everything we want them to remember. He told me to write the page people needed to read. This is what I wrote.

– Bernadette Jiwa


Our deepest fear is that we will run out of places to hide—that one day there will be no boss who allows us to remain invisible and no political or economic circumstance that stops us from doing the most important work of our lives. We are the ultimate paradox. There are only two things we want—we want to hide and we want to be seen.

I know you’re scared that your idea might not work.
I know you worry about being wrong, far more than you celebrate the things you get right.
I know you waste time being anxious that you won’t measure up to someone else’s metric of success.
I know that some days you say one thing and do another.
Why else would the same New Year’s resolutions happen every new year?
I know you are afraid people will laugh at you.
I know that every day you walk a tightrope between getting over these fears and creating an impact.
I know you’re ‘this close’ to a breakthrough.
I wrestle with these fears, too. Every single day. On my best days, I put away my nervous laughter, the twenty emails I must answer and my to-do list, and I do the things I don’t have the courage to do on the days I want to hide. The things that matter—the kind of things I wish my brother had had a chance to do.

My brother never posted a photo on Facebook or created an iTunes playlist. He didn’t ever book a room on Airbnb or make a call from an iPhone. He never got to know what an app was and how magical the Internet would be. He will never walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or eat a moon pie in Gramercy Park. And he won’t be there to kiss his daughter when she turns eighteen in ten days’ time.

Johnny was the kid who wouldn’t come in from playing outside until the very last warning. He lit up any room just by walking into it. Like the Pied Piper, he had trails of friends who followed him and women who adored him (yes, he was impossibly good-looking, too). He was funny and magnetic and caring and genuine, and he died right on the cusp of a brand-new millennium, with a lot of dreams left inside him because he didn’t understand that there was no reason to wait for tomorrow to be better—that he didn’t need to hide. He was the most magnificent person who had everything he needed, and he didn’t know it.
Every day counts.

The two most important things we can do are to allow ourselves to be seen AND to really see others. The greatest gift you can give a person is to see who she is and to reflect that back to her. When we help people to be who they want to be, to take back some of the permission they deny themselves, we are doing our best, most meaningful work.
I see you

What’s the one thing your audience needs to hear? Go tell them.

Consider this: What one page do you need to write?

The Cleaning Lady . . .


The Cleaning Lady
Joanne C. Jones

During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘Hello’.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Consider this: Smile and say hello today. It might make someone feel important.

I’m Flying! . . .


I’m Flying!
Roger Dean Kiser, Sr.

Once upon a time there was a little boy who was raised in an orphanage.

The little boy had always wished that he could fly like a bird. It was very difficult for him to understand why he could not fly. There were birds at the zoo that were much bigger than he, and they could fly. “Why can’t I?” he thought. “Is there something wrong with me?” he wondered.

There was another little boy who was crippled. He had always wished that he could walk and run like other little boys and girls. “Why can’t I be like them?” he thought.

One day the little orphan boy, who had wanted to fly like a bird, ran away from the orphanage. He came upon a park where he saw the little boy, who could not walk or run, playing in the sandbox.

He ran over to the little boy and asked him if he had ever wanted to fly like a bird.

“No,” said the little boy who could not walk or run. “But I have wondered what it would be like to walk and run like other boys and girls.”

“That is very sad,” said the little boy who wanted to fly. “Do you think we could be friends?” he said to the little boy in the sandbox.

“Sure,” said the little boy.

The two little boys played for hours. They made sand castles and made really funny sounds with their mouths. Sounds which made them laugh real hard. Then the little boy’s father came with a wheelchair to pick up his son. The little boy who had always wanted to fly ran over to the boy’s father and whispered something into his ear.

“That would be OK,” said the man.

The little boy who had always wanted to fly like a bird ran over to his new friend and said, “You are my only friend and I wish that there was something that I could do to make you walk and run like other little boys and girls. But I can’t. But there is something that I can do for you.”

The little orphan boy turned around and told his new friend to slide up onto his back. He then began to run across the grass. Faster and faster he ran, carrying the little crippled boy on his back. Faster and harder he ran across the park. Harder and harder he made his legs travel. Soon the wind just whistled across the two little boys’ faces.

The little boy’s father began to cry as he watched his beautiful little crippled son flapping his arms up and down in the wind, all the while yelling at the top of his voice,


Consider this: Who will you help fly today?

It Takes Time To Heal . . .

It Takes Time To Heal
Ted Hibbard

It takes time to heal.

Build a bridge
from now to tomorrow.
Sink the piers
deep into the Earth.
Pour in concrete
day by day,
a little at a time,
and let it set.

It takes time to heal.

It may feel very awkward,
as if you’re making empty promises,
as if you’re simply spanning empty space.

But someday, somehow, somewhere,
you’ll find yourself
upon a brand new shore,
glancing back at the bridge
which you alone have built.

It takes time to heal.

Consider this: What do you need time to heal from?

Hospital Windows . . .


Hospital Windows
Author Unknown
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself.

He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Consider this: who will you encourage today?

Twenty Dollars . . .


Twenty Dollars

Author Unknown

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked. “Who would like this $20 bill?”

Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you – but first, let me do this.”

He proceeded to crumple the 20 dollar note up. He then asked. “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.

“Well,” he replied, “what if I do this?” He dropped it on the
ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?”

Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No
matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless; but no matter what happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.

Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still
priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes, not in what we do or who we know, but by …WHO WE ARE.

You are special – don’t ever forget it.

Consider this: We are all valuable.

Pay Attention . . .


The child whispered, ‘God, speak to me’
And a meadow lark sang.
The child did not hear.

So the child yelled, ‘God, speak to me!’
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the child did not listen.

The child looked around and said,
‘God let me see you’ and a star shone brightly
But the child did not notice

And the child shouted,
‘God show me a miracle!’
And a life was born but the child did not know.

So the child cried out in despair,
‘Touch me God, and let me know you are here!’
Whereupon God reached down
And touched the child.
But the child brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowingly.

Ravindra Kumar KarnaniIndian Poet

Consider this: Pay attention today.