Thursday, February 19, 2009

Which is important: the coffee or the cup?

A professor agrees to host a ten year reunion for his graduate students during his retirement. The former students see it as an excellent opportunity to catch up on each other and celebrate days gone by.

On the appointed day, everyone shows up and the professor has arranged for a light brunch ending with coffee. There are cups arranged on the table, some of which are elaborate and expensive while other are cheap and disposable.

At the end of the brunch the professor announces that he will be able to accurately predict which of his gather students will go on to great fame and achievement and which of the remaining students will toil for the rest of their lives in mundane, irrelevant jobs. With enormous curiosity the students demand to know which group each of them fall into.

The professor then says, “Look at the cup you are holding. If it one of the expensive cups, then the likelihood of your professional success is very minute.” “Minute?!,” says one student. “I’m a director of research at a prestigious university and I suspect that I’m earning five times the amount you were paid when you were teaching.” The professor listened as others announced their outrage and disappointment that he would predict their failure rather than applaud their accomplishments.

The professor replies that the choice of cup spoke volumes to how each of them viewed their lives. For those who felt that the trappings of success where more important; the large office, the fancy title, they chose an expensive and elaborate cup to hold their coffee. For those students who understand that the journey is more important that the destination or that the purpose of research and intellect is the adventure of discovery, found the cup irrelevant and the taste of coffee of supreme importance.

Which will you chose? An elaborate cup adds nothing to the taste and quality of the coffee. The type of car you drive or size television you own does nothing to how you contribute to the betterment of your community and sense of self. It is the “coffee” of your life which should have value and importance.

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