Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Dish of Ice Cream


A Dish of Ice Cream

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

How much is an ice cream sundae?”

50 cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it.

How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient.

35 cents,” she said brusquely.

The little boy again counted the coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed.

When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw.

There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were 15 cents – her tip.

The Elephant Rope


The Elephant Rope

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Better to Ask than Assume

Better to Ask than Assume
The late Bill Love used to tell the story of a psychiatrist, engineer, and doctor who got lost in the Canadian woods. Stumbling on a trapper's cabin but getting no response at the door, they went inside for shelter and waited for his return.

In the corner, on a crude platform at the waist-high level, was a wood-burning stove. It quickly became not only the focus of interest for their half-frozen bodies but the center of their conversation as well.

The psychiatrist explained the stove's unusual position as evidence of psychological problems brought on by isolation. The engineer, on the other hand, saw it as an ingenious form of forced-air heating. The physician surmised the poor fellow had arthritis and found it too painful to bend over to fuel his stove.

When the trapper finally arrived, they could not resist asking about the stove whose warmth had saved them. "Simple," he said. "My stove pipe was too short."

I wasn't along for that hunting trip, but I've been where those guys were that day. I've tried to read someone's mind. I've seen motives that weren't there. I've walked into situations, caught a snippet of what was happening, and made a fool of myself by some badly chosen response. Or I've used a perfectly innocent slip of the tongue as my excuse to take offense. I can be a real jerk at times!

On occasion, the victim has been a stranger. At other times, it was a friend from church or colleague at work. Most often, it has been my wife or child.

Communication is a wonderful thing - when it happens. But there are so many barriers. Each of us brings baggage to every situation. Words can be vague or carry very different nuances for people from different backgrounds. Then there are the prejudices and blind spots all of us have.

Lots of confusion could be eliminated and far more progress made this week by following this simple rule: When something isn't clear, ask. Don't assume. Don't guess. Don't mind-read. Try swallowing your pride and say, "I'm not sure I understand. Do you mind explaining that to me?"

This simple strategy could save you embarrassment, time, and money. More important still, it might save one of your life's most important relationships.