Archives for category: stories

I try, and I fail.So, I try again (what else am I going to do?). And I fail again.

I get up, I re-think my approach, and I try again. This time, I have moderate success (if that is even a thing).

I keep at it, stumbling here and there, until I fail.

Did I learn something? Anything? I don’t know. I don’t know what I’ve learned, or even if I’ve learned anything, other than I failed, and how it feels.

So I try something else. This time, it goes better. I barely survive for a time, but I keep improving. Then, I remember my failures and realized I did learn something back then. If nothing else, at least I learned how to fail (so I avoid it), and that failing is not the end. So I keep trying, and tweaking, and learning, and improving, until it looks like something I can use. And I build on it, and grow, and learn and share, and for sharing I get back even more. 

It doesn’t look like anything yet, but it’s getting to be something, when suddenly they see me and call me a success. An “overnight success” is exactly what they say.

“So, what is the secret sauce for your overnight success?” – they ask.

I pause, and I think – “Success? It certainly doesn’t feel like success, at least not yet. And, overnight? What does that even mean? Do they mean overnight as in the last 30 years?”

“So?” – They press.

I just smile, and say – “I don’t know (‘cause I really don’t). I guess I’m just lucky.”

And they sigh with relief, because without knowing it, that was the perfect answer. Now, everybody can start envying my luck. Just my luck.

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parkinglot

Wherever I go and whatever I do, I try to pay attention, because I believe there is something to learn from every situation. That’s why I enjoy talking to my friend Jorge (the one that thought me about the Virtuose Circle of Business Owners), I always learn something new from him.

I had lunch with him the other day. He told me that he has a son in a boarding school in the US, and his best friend is from Sweeden. One day, Jorge’s son and his friend went to the theater, and his friend drove them there. They arrived early, so the parking lot was almost empty. The sweedish boy parked his car at the farthest end of the lot. Jorge’s son asked him why he had parked there, if the parking lot was empty, they could park right at the entrance of the theater, and this was his answer:

“We arrived earlier than everybody else. We were lucky to have the time to come earlier. Not everybody will be so lucky. Some people are going to be stuck in traffic or tied up with something else, and they will be late. It is only fair to leave the closest spots to them, so they don’t have to run across the parking lot”.

What a lesson on the differences of our cultures, and what a lesson on life and gratitude. Instead of taking advantage of your privileged situation, why don’t you give thanks for being in that position and use it for the benefit of someone else? You know, some day you might, and you will, find yourself at the other end of luck, and will be grateful for the cosideration of others.

coins

In my bed-side table I have a tray, where I throw all the coins I receive as change when I go to the store or the movies. It isn’t convenient to carry coins in your pocket, so I never take coins out of the tray, I only put in. After a few weeks, the tray overflows and the coins start to fall out and get lost, so I got an idea.

For many years I have kept the first piggy bank/money box that my Mom gave to me. It is a metal box with a combintaion lock on the door that her bank gave her as a gift for opening her account (back in the days when banks actually gave you anything). It has slot on the back to insert coins. I had not used it in many years, but I kept it for its sentimental value.

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I took it out of my “valued stuff box” (my wife calls it the garbage box, and if she had found it there would be no story to share), I cleaned it and set it in my closet. When I get coins as change, I separate them by value, and I save the most valuable (in my country is $10, that equates to US 80¢ aproximately) in my money box, the rest ($5, $2 and $1) I put in a small bag that I carry in my car to give out as charity to street beggers and less fortunate people. Every time the box fills up, I exchange the coins for bigger bills, put them back in the box, and start over again.

My original idea was to save enough money to take my family on a “free” vacation. Fortunately I have been able to take a vacation or two without having to use my savings, so after filling my money box several times, I now have US $2,500 in bills, and the box is already half full.

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My habits have changed also. I am now looking for coins, and I regularly find myself paying with bigger bills in hopes of getting coins as change. I made sure my kids saw me opening the box when it was full, and were they surprised! One of them now helps me every time he gets coins as change, and the other one got a box for himself and has adopted this habit (to this day I haven’t been able to get him to tell me how much money he has, but I suspect he may have more than me).

At the beginning I thought I would miss the coins I saved, but I have found I don’t. To be honest, I don’t even know what I did with that money before, and that worries me.

This has help me saving, and helping others, so I wanted to share the story, so in case you like it, you may do something about it.

Happy Savings!!

maestro vaca Jul_12_103

THE MASTER AND THE COW

“A master of Wisdom was walking through the countryside with his apprentice when they came to a small, disheveled shack on a meager piece of farmland. ‘See this poor family,’ said the Master. ‘Go see if they will share with us their food.’ ‘But we have plenty,’ said the apprentice.

The master said, ‘Do as I say.’ The obedient apprentice went to the home. The good farmer and his wife, surrounded by their seven children, came to the door. Their clothes were dirty and in tatters. ‘Fair greetings,’ said the apprentice. ‘My Master and I are sojourners and want for food. I’ve come to see if you have any to share.’

The farmer said, ‘we have little, but what we have we will share.’ He walked away, and then returned with a small piece of cheese and a crust of bread. ‘I am sorry, but we don’t have much.’ The apprentice did not want to take their food but did as he had been instructed. ‘Thank you. Your sacrifice is great.’

‘Life is difficult,’ the farmer said, ‘but we get by. And in spite of our poverty, we do have one great blessing.’ ‘What blessing is that?’ asked the apprentice. ‘We have a little cow. She provides us milk and cheese, which we eat or sell in the marketplace. It is not much but she provides enough for us to live on.’

The apprentice went back to his Master with the meager rations and reported what he had learned about the farmer’s plight. The Master of Wisdom said, ‘I am pleased to hear of their generosity, but I am greatly sorrowed by their circumstance. Before we leave this place, I have one more task for you.’

Speak, Master.’

‘Return to the shack and bring back their cow.’

The apprentice did not know why, but he knew his Master to be merciful and wise, so he did as he was told. When he returned with the cow, he said to his Master, ‘I have done as you commanded. Now what is it that you would do with this cow?’

‘See yonder cliffs? Take the cow to the highest crest and push her over.’ The apprentice was stunned. ‘But Master…’

‘Do as I say.’ The apprentice sorrowfully obeyed. When he had completed his task, the Master and his apprentice went on their way.

Over the next years, the apprentice grew in mercy and wisdom. But every time he thought back on the visit to the poor farmer’s family, he felt a pang of guilt. One day he decided to go back to the farmer and apologize for what he had done. But when he arrived at the farm, the small shack was gone.

Instead there was a large, fenced villa.

‘Oh no,’ he cried. ‘The poor family who was here was driven out by my evil deed.’ Determined to learn what had become of the family, he went to the villa and pounded on its great door. A servant answered the door.

‘I would like to speak to the master of the house,’ he said. ‘As you wish,’ said the servant. A moment later a smiling, well-dressed man greeted the apprentice.

‘How may I serve you?’ the wealthy man asked. ‘Pardon me, Sir, but could you tell me what has become of the family who once lived on this land but is no more?’ ‘I do not know what you speak of,’ the man replied. ‘My family has lived on this land for three generations.’

The apprentice looked at him quizzically. ‘Many years ago I walked through this valley, where I met a farmer and his seven children. But they were very poor and lived in a small shack.

‘Oh,’ the man said smiling, ‘that was my family. But my children have all grown now and have their own estates.’

The apprentice was astonished. ‘But you are no longer poor. What happened?’

‘God works in mysterious ways,’ the man said, smiling. ‘We had this little cow that provided us with the slimmest of necessities, enough to survive but little more.

“We suffered but expected no more from life. Then, one day, our little cow wandered off and fell over a cliff. We knew that we would be ruined without her, so we did everything we could to survive. Only then did we discover that we had greater power and abilities than we possibly imagined and never would have found as long as we relied on that cow. What a great blessing from Heaven to have lost our little cow.”

I don’t know about you, but I loved this little story. I think we all have a little cow in our life that is holding us back. We shouldn’t settle for what is easy or for the bare minimum. Sometimes losing everything is what will help us find our true potential. So the next time that one of your “little cows” is taken away, take the opportunity to grow and learn and accomplish more. Growth will only occur outside our comfort zone.

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