PUSH THAT COW DOWN THE CLIFF

A long time ago, a Monk set out on his travels accompanied by his assistant, a Brother. Night was falling when the Monk told the Brother to go on ahead to find lodging. The Brother searched the deserted landscape until he found a humble shack, in the middle of nowhere. A poor family lived in the hovel. The mother, father and children were dressed in rags. The Brother asked if he and the Monk could spend the night in their dwelling. “You are most welcome to spend the night,” said the father of the family. They prepared a simple meal consisting of fresh milk, cheese and cream for the Brother and the Monk. The Brother felt moved by their poverty and even more by their simple generosity.

When they finished eating, the Monk asked them how they managed to survive in such a poor place, so far away from the nearest neighbors and town. The wife looked to her husband to answer. In a resigned tone of voice he told them how they managed to survive. ‘We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbors who do not live too far away. We hold back enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream-that is what we eat.”

The next morning, the Brother and the Monk said their good-byes and set out to continue their journey. After the Monk and the Brother had walked a few miles, the Monk turned to the Brother and said, “Go back and push the cow off the cliff!” “Father,” the Brother replied, “they live off the cow. Without her, they will have nothing.” The Monk repeated his order “go back and kill the cow.”

With a heavy heart, the Brother returned to the hovel. He worried about the future of the family because he knew they depended on the cow to survive. His vow of obedience bound him to follow the orders of the wise Monk. He pushed the cow off the cliff.

Years later, the young Brother became a Monk. One day he found himself on the same road where he found lodging so many years ago. Driven by a sense of remorse he decided to visit the family. He rounded the curve in the road and to his surprise, he saw a splendid mansion, surrounded by landscaped gardens, in the place where the hovel used to be. The new house exuded a sense of prosperity and happiness. The Monk knocked on the door.

A well-dressed man answered. The Monk asked, “what ever became of the family who used to live here? Did they sell the property to you?” The man looked surprised and said he and his family had always lived on the property. The Monk told him how he had stayed in a hovel on the same spot, with his master the old Monk. ‘What happened to the family that lived here?” he asked.

The man invited the Monk to stay with him as his guest. While they ate, the host explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know Father, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We didn’t own anything else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we did not even know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”

Source and author: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

‘If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got’ – Henry Ford

  • Do you have a cow you need to push off the cliff? What is its name?
  • What are some of the things and habits you have been relying on for a very long time, things and behaviours that are perhaps holding you back?

TWO SEEDS

Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile spring soil. The first seed said, “I want to grow! I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth’s crust above me . . . I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of spring. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!”  And so it grew.

The second seed said, “I am afraid. If I send my roots into the ground below, I don’t know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my way through the hard soil above me I may damage my delicate sprouts . . . what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them? And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground. No, it is much better for me to wait until it is safe.”  And so it waited.

A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.

Source | Patty Hansen, Jack Canfield & Mark Victor HansenCondensed Chicken Soup for the Soul
(Health Communications, 1996) pages 174-175

CONSIDER THIS

  • Those of us who refuse to risk and grow get swallowed up by life.
  • It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. | Dag Hammarskjöld

FEARLESS AND THE FEARFUL SEEDS

Two seeds lay side by side in the fertile spring soil. The first seed said, “I want to grow! I want to send my roots deep into the soil beneath me, and thrust my sprouts through the earth’s crust above me . . . I want to unfurl my tender buds like banners to announce the arrival of spring. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the blessing of the morning dew on my petals!”  And so it grew.

The second seed said, “I am afraid. If I send my roots into the ground below, I don’t know what I will encounter in the dark. If I push my way through the hard soil above me I may damage my delicate sprouts . . . what if I let my buds open and a snail tries to eat them? And if I were to open my blossoms, a small child may pull me from the ground. No, it is much better for me to wait until it is safe.”  And so it waited.

A yard hen scratching around in the early spring ground for food found the waiting seed and promptly ate it.

Source | Patty Hansen in Jack Canfield & Mark Victor HansenCondensed Chicken Soup for the Soul, pages 174-175

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. Dag Hammarskjöld
  • Those of us who refuse to risk and grow get swallowed up by life.

PLAYING IT SAFE

A young reporter wanted to get a feel for agriculture, so he called upon a farmer and said, “How’s your wheat coming along?” The farmer replied, “I didn’t plant any.”

“Really?” asked the reporter. “I thought this was supposed to be wheat country.”

“Some say it is,” Came the reply. “But I was afraid we might not see enough rain this year.”

“Well, what about your corn? How is it doing?” the young man inquired.

“Didn’t plant corn this year,” the farmer said. “I was afraid of disease”

“Alfalfa?”

“No. Afraid the price might drop.”

“Well, then,” asked the reporter, “what did you plant?”

“Nothing,” the farmer said. “I just played it safe.”

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER 
Do you recognize yourself in that story? We cut out a lot of life playing it safe. Sometimes we all play it so safe that we are bound to lose. The farmer did not plant corn and did not plant wheat and did not plant alfalfa, because there was a risk which accompanied planting each one.  Something might go wrong in each case, so he played it safe by planting nothing, and he ended up with exactly that – nothing.

Do not play it too safe because that can be the most dangerous thing you can do in the world.  Of course, unnecessary risk-taking is foolish. But if life is to be lived fully, then saying “no”to our fears and taking a risk may be the first step to success.  It takes courage to do what we have never done before and to go where we have never been before.  But if we did not do that, we would all have stayed in our mother’s wombs and never lived at all.

  • Don’t play for safety. It’s the most dangerous thing in the world.  | Sir Hugh Walpole
  • “Many great ideas have been lost because the people who had them could not stand being laughed at.” | Anon
  • You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work, risking, and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful – yourself. | Alan Alda
  • Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. | Claude Thomas Bissell

PRIME THE PUMP FIRST

There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance. He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note. The note read: “Pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need”.

Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find.

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • What would you have done? How comfortable are you with risk?
  • Where do you stand when it comes to “instant gratification” and “delayed gratification”?

An intriguing sociological study asked fifty people over the age of ninety five one question: ’If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?’ One of the top three answers that emerged and dominated the results of the study was “If I had to do it over again, I would risk more.” The problem for most of us is we are more afraid of failure than we are of regret. Too often, by the time we wake up, it’s too late. The next time you are tempted to play it safe, ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I risking by playing it safe?
  • What do I stand to gain by taking the risk?
  • What do I stand to lose by not taking this risk?
  • What would I do today if I were going to be really brave?