I recently came across a wonderful story from the book “All I Want To Know Is Where I’m Going To Die So I’ll Never Go There: Buffett & Munger – A Study in Simplicity and Uncommon, Common Sense” by Peter Bevelin that really struck a chord with me.
The story is about a little boy in Texas who was asked a simple arithmetic question by his teacher. The question was, “If there are 9 sheep in the pen and one jumps out, how many are left?”
The other children in the class got the answer right, but the little boy had a different response. He said, “None of them are left.”
The teacher, thinking that the boy didn’t understand arithmetic, corrected him and said, “You don’t understand arithmetic.”
But the little boy replied, “No teacher. You don’t understand sheep.”
The little boy’s response was very insightful. Sheep are known to move in herds and follow each other blindly. If one sheep strays from the path, the others will follow, and none will be left behind. This is why shepherds carry sticks – to keep the sheep on the right track.
The little boy understood the nature of sheep and knew that if one sheep jumps out, all the others would follow. Therefore, none would be left in the pen.
We often think we know everything about a particular subject or situation, but sometimes we don’t. It’s important to step back and examine things from different angles and perspectives, like the little boy did with the sheep.
Naval Adm. William H. McRaven delivers an amazing University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address.
Returning to his alma mater last week, he provided graduating seniors 10 lessons he learned from basic SEAL training.
Here’s one story that resonated the most for me. Reminded me of my Mom. She always insist on this.
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task, mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
Recently read the book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
And this is one anecdote in the book that I liked the most.
On day one our instructor explained the Dale Carnegie method he would be employing. Rule one was that no one would ever be criticized or corrected. Only positive reinforcement would be allowed, from the instructor or from the other students. I was immediately skeptical. How was I supposed to learn if I didn’t know what I was doing wrong?
The next rule was that every person would speak to the rest of the class during each session, but we had to volunteer to go next.
Eventually someone volunteered, and then another. Our speaking assignment was something simple. I think we simply had to say something about ourselves. For most people, including me, this was a relatively easy task. But for many in the class it was nearly impossible. One young lady who had been forced by her employer to take the class was so frightened that she literally couldn’t form words. In the cool, air-conditioned room, beads of sweat ran from her forehead down to her chin and dropped onto the carpet. The audience watched in shared pain as she battled her own demons and tried to form words. A few words came out, just barely, and she returned to her seat defeated, humiliated, broken. Then an interesting thing happened. I rank it as one of the most fascinating things I have ever witnessed. The instructor went to the front and looked at the broken student. The room was dead silent. I’ll always remember his words. He said, “Wow. That was brave.”
My brain spun in my head. Twenty-some students had been thinking this woman had just crashed and burned in the most dramatically humiliating way. She had clearly thought the same thing. In four words, the instructor had completely reinterpreted the situation. Every one of us knew the instructor was right. We had just witnessed an extraordinary act of personal bravery, the likes of which one rarely sees. That was the takeaway. Period.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life Scott Adams