Whether you’re a person in need of a caregiver (or a CEO looking for a successor); remember, truth, honor, and respect will rise above all else, even when one might not “look” as the others.
This wonderful story by an (as yet) unknown* author beautifully illustrates how a CEO wisely chooses the one who has the courage to uphold integrity despite appearances. (TCV Ed.)
A successful businessman was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.
Instead of choosing one of the directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called together the young executives in his company.
He said, “It is time for me to step down. First, I must choose the next CEO. I will choose one of you.”
The young executives were shocked.
The boss continued, “I am going to give each of you a SEED, today – one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then choose the next CEO from what you bring.”
One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil, and compost. He planted the seed. Every day, he watered it and watched to see how it had grown.
After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.
Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing had grown.
Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.
By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.
Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues; however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil. He so wanted the seed to grow.
A year finally went by and the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.
Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot, but she urged him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful–in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.
Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”
All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!
When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed. Jim told him the story.
The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!”
Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed.
“How can he be the new CEO?” the others asked.
The CEO explained, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow.”
“All of you, except Jim, brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation
If you plant hard work, you will reap success
So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.
Thank you, Sharon Price, for sharing this story.
* This inspiring story about honesty and courage has appeared over the years on hundreds of websites without any attribution. If you know or are the author of this story, please let The Caregiver’s Voice know, so we may give proper credit. The story has been slightly edited. (TCV Ed.)