I heard this parable on a radio talk show. It explores some important lessons about conventional wisdom, expectations, and opportunity, so I thought I would share it. I don’t know where it originated from here’s a paraphrased version of it.
There once was a janitor who worked for a large corporation in the 1900s. Like many working class folks at the time this janitor couldn’t read or write. 🙁 Although he was a quick learner, he never finished school because he started working at a young age to help out his family. Over time many of the other custodians at the company would go through janitorial education and get certified and promoted. But because this janitor was illiterate he couldn’t pass the certificate exams to become a world class janitor.
On his way home he would sometimes pass by a group of men loitering outside a local pub. They would often complain how there was no place to buy cigarettes around the neighborhood. They had to walk 10 blocks away to get to the nearest store that sells smokes. The curious janitor stopped one day to ask the men why not start their own cigarette business close by. “We don’t have the time,” they would reply.
Eventually the janitor decided to open a small cigarette store right beside the pub. He operated the store on his own during the evenings and weekends. It became very popular and he soon opened another location, and then another, and hired people to help his growing business. Then he quit his job as a janitor and continued to grow his cigarette company, which made him a ton of money. 🙂
When a large tobacco company offered to purchase his company he asked his accountant to read the offer letter to him. The accountant was unexpectedly surprised to learn that the successful entrepreneur didn’t know how to read. “You’ve already accomplished so much with your knowledge,” said the accountant. “Imagine where you would be right now if you were literate.” The ex-janitor chuckled and replied, “I’ll tell you exactly where I’d be. I would still be back at my old job sweeping floors.”
Random Useless Fact:
There’s a piece of land in the far Arctic named Hans Island. Since the 1930s, this nondescript island has been at the center of an ongoing battle between two countries.