Rusting and Stalling

There’s a Chinese folk story that goes like this:

Once upon a time, there were two brothers who decided to take up the job of cutting and collecting firewoods for their ageing father. The big brother woke up early in the morning, got his knife and went up to the mountain for a day of extremely hard work. As for the younger brother, because he saw how rusty the knives were, he decided to spend the morning sharpen his knife instead. At the end, the big brother spent the whole day exhausting himself for just a pile of firewood whereas the clever younger brother spent only an afternoon with his newly sharpened knife and got twice the amount of firewood.

This story’s lesson surely isn’t subtle. It’s about working smart, rather than working hard. However, many people (including me) fall into the pitfall of waiting. For fear of being the dumb bother who toiled away with a rusty knife, we tend to wait; we wait until we think we have the perfect information to make a decision; we stall until we think we’ve perfected the plan with a backup plan-b, plan-c and plan-d in hand before we dare to take on a project. Of course, it’s great to plan before you do anything, but at one point, you’ve gotta stop planning, and start doing.

We will never have the perfect information for something, and we sure won’t be able to prepare ourselves for every possible scenario because the future’s a bitch, but that’s okay. Sometimes, you just gotta start with what you have, and learn to adapt along the way.

Don’t be ashamed to be the dumb big brother. The good thing about this is that the story does not have to end here. The big brother can also have a happy ending. He can learn to sharpen his knife from his younger brother the second day, and voila, he’ll also collect four piles of firewoods when the golden sunset hits his perspiring head the next day!

The point is stop waiting. Start your project with whatever you have now, and learn along the way. Take that rusty knife of yours out and cut that bitch of project down!

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2 thoughts on “Rusting and Stalling”

  1. Thanks for sharing that Chinese folk story, I really enjoyed that and completely agree that whilst the younger brother may have come across smarter, the big brother learnt an important lesson and this is how we grow and develop in life! 🙂

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