Half-a-Million Coins

January 18, 2010

 By Matt Michel

A business parable…

Throughout his life the man tried to live the best life he could.  He enjoyed his craft, his leisure, his family, and his friends.  He worked hard and in time, became very successful.  His success resulted in great monetary wealth, which pleased the man because he was able to provide for his family’s needs and wants, reward his loyal employees, and help those in need.

“There is a man who lives well,” said people who knew the man.

The man had one child, a son.  He was proud of his son and loved him greatly.  On his son’s 18th birthday, he summoned him to his office.

“Today, you become a man,” he told his son.  “Today, you begin to make your own way in the world.  I have done what I can for you.  I have tried to raise you well, to develop your character, and to feed your mind.”

“You start your adulthood wealthy.  You have a great treasure of many coins to invest as you will.  Nearly nine million of these coins have been spent so far.  How you spend the rest is up to you.”

“Father, how have these nine million coins been spent?”

The man smiled, “Why, they have been spent on your youth.  They have been spent learning what knowledge I, your mother, and your teachers could pass on.  Some of the coinage has been spent on sports and games and play.  Such is the case for most children.  You are no exception.  Until today, your mother and I dictated how most of your wealth has been spent.  After today, you will decide.”

“From today forward, you will have more than half-a-million coins every year.  How you spend them is up to you.  You can waste them.  You can fritter them away.  Or, you can invest them in yourself and others as I have tried to do through my life.”

“Remember,” continued the father, “True wealth comes not from the size of a bank account.  True wealth comes from the things you do with the coinage you are given.  Use that coinage well and you will never worry about your bank account.  Now, go and make your way in the world.  But return every so often and let me know how well you have invested your wealth.”

“Thank you Father.  I will.”

With pride and a degree of sadness, the man watched his son leave.  It was five years before his son returned.  His father greeted him with a hug and smile.

“How are you, my son?  Tell me, what have you done with your life?”

“Well, Father I’ve lived life to the fullest.”

“And what have you learned?  What have you built?  What have you created?”

The son laughed, “Learned?  Built?  Created?  Why nothing, Father.  Didn’t you hear?  I’ve enjoyed life.  Only…”

“Only, what?”

“Only the money you gave me when I turned 18 is gone.  You said I would have half-a-million coins a year.  I haven’t spent nearly that much.  At least, I don’t think I have.  Even if I have, when you count the future, there should be plenty remaining, but the banker told me the money is gone.  Father, what am I to do?”

“Foolish boy!” exclaimed the father, “You have squandered nearly three million coins since you left home and have nothing to show for it.”

“But father, I have not!  I have not spent nearly that much.”

“You have.  It is true that I gave you a bank account with money, but your true wealth was not a gift from me.  Your true wealth is the same wealth given to all of us.  Your true wealth was time.  The half-a-million coins I referred to on your 18th birthday was half-a-million minutes.  Each coin was a minute.  Every day since you left home, you were given 1,440 minutes.  Every week, you were given 10 thousand minutes.  Every year, you were given more than 500 thousand minutes.”

“But…”

“But what?  You worry because your bank account is empty.  Instead you should worry because you squandered wealth that is even more precious.  You frittered away the time you were given.  Had you invested your time well, you would have either increased your financial wealth or discovered the means to increase it.  Instead, you have nothing and know nothing.”

“Fortunately, no matter what you frittered away in the past, you still have the future.  Beginning today, you have half-a-million minutes to squander or invest over the next year.  The choice is yours.”


Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2005 Matt Michel

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