A student assigned to write an essay about an effective leader wrote this story:

“I’ve been taking a bus to school for years. Most passengers keep to themselves and no one ever talks to anyone else.

“About a year ago, an elderly man got on the bus and said loudly to the driver, ‘Good morning!’ Most people looked up, annoyed, and the bus driver just grunted. The next day the man got on at the same stop and again he said loudly, ‘Good morning!’ to the driver. Another grunt. By the fifth day, the driver relented and greeted the man with a semi-cheerful ‘Good morning!’ The man announced, ‘My name is Benny,’ and asked the driver, ‘What’s yours?’ The driver said his name was Ralph.

“That was the first time any of us heard the driver’s name and soon people began to talk to each other and say hello to Ralph and Benny. Soon Benny extended his cheerful ‘Good morning!’ to the whole bus. Within a few days his ‘Good morning!’ was returned by a whole bunch of ‘Good mornings’ and the entire bus seemed to be friendlier. People got to know each other.

“If a leader is someone who makes something happen, Benny was our leader in friendliness.

“A month ago, Benny didn’t get on the bus and we haven’t seen him since. Everyone began to ask about Benny and lots of people said he may have died. No one knew what to do and the bus got awful quiet again.

“So last week, I started to act like Benny and say, ‘Good morning!’ to everyone and they cheered up again. I guess I’m the leader now. I hope Benny comes back to see what he started.”

Source |  Michael Josephson in  What will Matter


Be aware that your presence, your attitude, your composure and your words or discerned silence can make or break, enhance or diminish the spaces we inhabit.



A hard-working and generous farmer lived with his three lazy, greedy sons. He was elderly, and just before he died, he called them to him and told them that their inheritance was buried in his fields, and that they would have to dig it up in order to receive it. No sooner than his spirit left him than his sons went out and tore apart the fields looking for the buried treasure. Having dug up the entire farm and found nothing, however, they began to wonder if it was a trick, and if their father, in his generosity, had already given all his money away to the poor. One of the sons said, “Well, we’ve already dug the fields, we might as well sow a crop to take advantage of it.” His brothers agreed, and they planted wheat in the fields, took in a good harvest, and sold it for a large sum.
After the harvest, the sons wondered if they might have just missed the treasure when digging for it, so they dug up the fields once again just in case; having found no treasure, they once again planted a crop and sold it. This continued for a few years, until the sons had at last become accustomed to the labor and realized the lesson that their father had left them with on their deathbed. They became honest and content, and lived their lives in peace.


Another shorter version:
Once upon a time there was a farmer who had three lazy sons. While he and his wife worked day and night to tend their vineyards the sons refused to lift a finger. On his deathbed the farmer told them that he had buried a treasure in the vineyard. The sons dug up every inch of the vineyard trying to find the pot of gold. After many years of searching, they never found the spot where the treasure was hidden. However, all of their digging cultivated the ground in the vineyard. Soon the grapevines produced such abundant fruit that the three lazy sons grew wealthy, unwittingly, from their own hard work.
  • There is not such thing as a fruitful harvest without the sweat of sowing and planting.


Two monks were out for a walk one day

One older, the other much younger. They had both taken vows of silence and chastity. As they continued along the trail, they came to a creek where they saw a girl standing on the bank, she told them that she needed to get across. Without hesitation the older monk picked her up in his arms and waded across the creek with her. Once they both got to the other side, they went on their way.

An hour on down the trail the younger of the two broke his vow of silence,

“You know with our vow of chastity we are not to even touch a woman, let alone make eye contact with one!”

The older one, who had been admiring the beauty of the woods and the songs of the birds, replied, “Brother, I set her down on the bank an hour ago. You, however, are still carrying her.”


  • Let go of your past and you will be able to enjoy the present in its fullness.


Did you hear about the guy from Brooklyn who was in the Sahara Desert in swimming trunks, for heaven’s sake, and a towel?  Walking in the Sahara Desert, he meets an Arab, and he says, “Hi.”  And the Arab says, “Hi.”  He asks, “How far away from here is the sea?”

“The sea? For heaven’s sake,” says the Arab, “that’s a thousand miles away from here.”  And the guy from Brooklyn says, “Boy, some beach you guys have out here!”

Source | Anthony de Mello, Rediscovering Life, page 102


  • A beach? Now is this optimism and a positive outlook on reality or radical ignorance verging on stupidity?
  • What is the difference between a sandy beach and a desert?


A camel trader is walking across the Sahara Desert. The party pitches a tent for the night.  And the slaves drive pegs into the ground and tie the camels to the pegs.  Then they come in to say to the master, “There are only nineteen pegs and we’ve got twenty camels.  How do we tie the twentieth camel?”

And the master said, “These camels are stupid animals.  just go through the motions of tying the camel and he’ll stay put all night,” which is what they did, and the camel stood there, convincing everybody.  And the next morning they lifted the tent and continued on their journey, the slaves came to complain that all the camels were following except this one.  This one refused to budge.  And the master said, “You forgot to untie him.”

They said, “Oh, yes,” so they went through the motions of untying him.

Source | Anthony de MelloRediscovering Life, Pages 63-64


This is an image of the human condition.  We’re scared about things that are not.  We’re tied to things that don’t exist.  They’re illusions.  They’re falsehoods.  They’re beliefs; they’re not realities.



Once upon a time there was a Baby Mouse and Mother Mouse. They lived in a hole in the skirting board in a big, warm house with lots of cheese to eat, where they wanted for nothing. Then, one day, Mother Mouse decided to take Baby Mouse outside of their home. Waiting outside for them was a huge ginger tomcat, licking it’s lips and waiting to eat them both up. “Mother, Mother! What should we do?” Cried Baby Mouse, clinging to his mother’s tail. Mother Mouse paused, staring up into the beady eyes of the hungry cat. But she wasn’t scared, because she knew exactly how to deal with big, scary cats. She opened her mouth and took in a deep breath. “Woof! Woof! Bark bark bark!” She shouted, and the cat ran away as fast as he could. “Wow, Mother! That was amazing!” Baby Mouse said to his mother, smiling happily. “And that, my child, is why it is always best to have a second language.”


Do you speak a second language? And by second language I don’t mean only “language” as the dictionary defines it, but also another point of view, another possibility, a different way forward. In other words, are you flexible enough to think outside your box?


A couple were going on vacation but his wife was on a business trip.

The husband went ahead to the destination first and his wife would meet him the next day.

When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick email.

Unfortunately, when typing her address, he mistyped a letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher’s wife whose husband had passed away only the day before.

When the grieving widow checked her email, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint.

At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:

Dearest Wife,

Just got checked in.  Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow.

P.S. Sure is hot down here!


Miscommunication, conscious or unconscious, intended or unintended, can in fact shift the whole tenor of a conversation and deform what could have been a vacation with a taste of paradise into a dreaded visit that tastes and feels like hell!