This blog post is taken from my book Golden Nuggets, and it’s a great reminder that it’s important to tell the truth.
This story is entitled, “The Emperor’s Seed.”
An Emperor in the Far East was growing old and realized that it was about time to choose his successor, but instead of choosing one of his children (which was the normal thing to do), he decided to do something different.
He called the young boys in the kingdom together and said, “It’s time for me to step down and choose the next Emperor. I’ve decided to choose one of you, and I’m going to give each one of you a special seed today. Each seed is different, and I want you to plant it, water it, and then come back here one year from today with what you’ve grown. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and based on your plants, one of you will be the next Emperor.”
One boy named Ling was there that day, and just like the others, he received a seed. He went home and told his mother what the Emperor had said. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it every day.
After several weeks, some of Ling’s friends began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. But even though he watered it day after day after day, Ling’s seed didn’t grow.
After several months, everyone was talking about their plants, but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. He was sure that he must have killed his seed. Everyone else had flowers and beautiful plants, but he still didn’t have anything.
A year finally passed and all the boys of the kingdom brought their plants to the Emperor for inspection.Ling told his mother that he didn’t want to take an empty pot to the Emperor, but his Mother said he must be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew that his Mother was right.
He took his empty pot to the palace, and when he arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other boys. They were beautiful – and they came in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kids laughed at him, and one of them said, “Hey nice try.”
When the Emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people, but Ling just tried to hide in the back. The Emperor then said, “Wow, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown. Today, one of you will be appointed to be the next Emperor!”
But then, all of a sudden, the Emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified and he thought, “The Emperor knows that I’m a failure – maybe he’s gonna have me killed.”
When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name, and he replied. “My name is Ling.” All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The Emperor asked everyone to quiet down – and he then looked at Ling, and he asked him if he’d been faithful to water the seed. Ling said that he’d been faithful, but, that his seed simply didn’t grow. The Emperor then announced to the crowd;
“Behold your new Emperor! His name is Ling.” Ling couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new Emperor?
The Emperor then said, “One year ago today, I gave each one of you a seed. I then told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me. However, I gave you seeds that had been boiled and wouldn’t grow. Each one of you, except Ling, have brought plants to me. When you found out that the seed I gave you wouldn’t grow, you substituted another seed.
Ling was the only one who had the courage and the honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it, and therefore, Ling will be your next Emperor!”
Isn’t that a great story?
There’s no such thing as a white lie, so don’t compromise when it comes to your integrity; because a lie is a lie regardless of its color.
Don’t spin the truth and don’t leave false impressions.
Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand.
Demonstrate integrity, and don’t manipulate people or distort facts.
It’s been said that truthfulness (which is the opposite of deception) is earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts.