The Story of the Seed

August 11, 2009

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, ‘It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. ‘The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. ‘I am going to give each one of you a SEED today – one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.’

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – He so wanted the

seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot…

But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the boardroom. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful — in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. ‘My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,’ said the CEO. ‘Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!’

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot.. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, ‘The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!’

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, ‘Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is Jim!’ Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed.

‘How could he be the new CEO?’ the others said.

Then the CEO said, ‘One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!’

End of story.

I have read variations of this story credited to anonymity but in terms of lesson is worth repeating specially in a country like ours that need to be reinforced with lessons on virtuous leadership.

Scriptures say whatsoever you sow you shall reap.

Plant honesty and reap trust.

Plant goodness and you reap friends.

Plant humility and reap greatness

Plant perseverance and reap contentment

Plant consideration and reap perspective

Plant hard work and reap success

Plant forgiveness and reap reconciliation

Plant faith in GOD and reap a harvest.

I guess the question is what are you planting now?

This Post Has 58 Comments

  1. kris

    wow… what a superb example of man’s honesty a dignity which are rare nowadays

  2. Ruby Salvosa

    Thanks… I have been craving for inspirational and spiritual stories.

  3. Rommel Laranjo

    You are always inspirational indeed bro Francis! God bless you always and more power!

  4. laicamarie

    Thank you for your timely article, Francis.
    I first heard you speak when I was a college senior in St. Theresa’s, way back in 2000. I have just barely survived a major career shift, by going after my passions. I am glad I’m still able to read your thoughts through your blog (and mailing list). It has been hard adjusting to a new work culture and even more difficult to stick to honesty, goodness and being kind, especially in the face of dealing with oh, let’s just say, “challenging” people. Thank you for being my invisible mentor. May the world continue to inspire you.

  5. Awie Ferrer

    Wow, what a great story!! This is very inspiring thanks for this post.. God bless you more…

  6. Cornel

    Thank you so much! Again your article inspired me to muse about values that will be like my compass. God bless you Sir!

  7. ces

    a story like this is a real testament of our honesty and humility put in to the test…

  8. christine

    wow very timely how i wish ed can read this article for him to enlighten. thank you for this post

  9. pinkishjhane

    Your article teaches me to be courageous despite the difficulties in life.

  10. John-John R. Castillo

    Sir Francis,

    Kudos on your very inspiring article !!! … Very heartwarming… it humble and guide me to be stand on the virtue of honesty and integrity..

    Maraming salamat po…

    God bless you always, Sir…


  11. Chris Chia

    Inspiring as usual.
    Great story to share with my Beijing team.

  12. Paul Garilao

    Jim should take the initiative to investigate the science behind the seed so he would know before that the seed is impossible to grow. Nice article, Francis.

  13. love

    i have read some of ur works and the name Francis Kong remained i my mind. You have inspired me a lot. Im a banker and a fisher…. fisher of man… I’m part of Davao- Federation of Archdiocesan Youth Groups and Ang lingkod ng Panginoon. ur writings inspired me lot and it helped me deal w/ life and w/ other people. And I feel more confident whenever I am challenged in my service. thank u sir francis!

  14. Jolly

    really inspiring article!!! reminds me of my father… after reading the story i suddenly felt very proud of my parents! thanks!!!

  15. Arthur

    Sir, thanks for another inspiring story.

    I am no executive. I am just a humble secretary. Your stories inspire me. I may not to be a great executive, but I could be a great secretary.

  16. Winnie

    This is story is inspiring encouraging and a lesson to me that honesty for sure reaps trust. It proves how much we can acquire when we are honest with the little things in life that sometimes seem not to matter. May God help me to be as honest as Jim.

    Thank you lots and God be with you!

  17. gideon paul c. alcaide

    wow! thanks a lot mr. francis! it’s been a struggle for me trying to live with integrity. i had quite a lot of failures and all of them happened when i forgot to keep the integrity.



  18. Alex Cabangcalan

    Hi Francis,

    Awesome, truly inspiring. More blessings and grace for you and your family. Your thoughts keep on inspiring people to be better and better each passing day. May God guard your heart and mind and continue to plant in you positive influences that you can share to your readers.


  19. Nancy

    This is a wake up call! Call a spade a spade and not a big spoon. Face your fears.

  20. norman

    sir very inspiring and timely. now a days we need well principled men- honest and full of courage. We need “living fish to swim against the current.” God bless!

  21. PACT Familya CAMACOP

    Isn’t it like those pastors who plant artificial growth in their churches?
    Or ministers who plant artificial success into their pots of ministries?

    Let us just be honest and faithful in doing the work of the Lord and wait for Him to give us real growth and success for His glory.

    Thanks to Sir Francis!

  22. Nice article Sir Francis! This is a very very good example of how honesty and integrity works! For the retiring CEO, honesty and integrity are two of the best qualities that the next CEO should possess for the company to become successful.

  23. Jeffrey

    In times when Results are the only thing that counts, we sometimes forget our principles and Integrity. I remember my high school days when my class mates use to copy answers from our “class nerd” and they even get higher scores than him. Thanks for reminding me about this.

  24. pearl

    ’twas A great reminder for the readers to be honest and plant goodness, that somebody will reap betterment,, I as a student,, it must be practice so that in the field of real world that awaits, we could be equipped,, and will reap a good harvest., and is a weapon in the ‘battlefield’.-Good Day-

  25. jullian

    ive read this story in a news paper two months ago

  26. Imelda Angeles

    Dear Sir,

    It was a realization. Honesty is at times set aside in favor of self interest. It is true, because of greediness, because of power and popularity, because of ungodly desire, truthfulness and honesty is forgotten, we tend to do everything just to get what we want. How I wish the leaders of the country will be able to read this and be able to realize something not for themselves but for the people.

  27. alain

    dear francis,

    i always read your column in the phil star and you always inspire me with your great message and i learn a lot from you, and this story really a great reminder that everyone should be honest and thats what this country leaders dont have and its a sad reality. how i wish all government official take a lesson from you so they will change for the better of our country.

  28. alain

    dear francis,

    i always read your column in the phil star and you always inspire me with your great message and i learn a lot from you, and this story really a great reminder that everyone should be honest and thats what this country leaders dont have and its a sad reality.

  29. I heard this story from a priest. I was really amazed with the outcome of such task. Could you imagine that the poor one was proclaimed to be the next CEO. Honesty really does something that people can hardly imagine… My as well the cliche “The truth will set you free”. The pauper was freed from poverty because of what he showed and manifested before the former ceo…

  30. Marcelo Juralbal Jr

    The corporate jungle is fierce and unforgiving. These urban warriors do whatever it takes to succeed, even with dirty tricks. Just when you thought you can hide from dishonesty, this ostrich syndrome mentality unfolds right before your eyes in a conspicuously ridiculous fashion. Shame on us.

  31. richel mae distrito

    this is a great and an inspiring story..
    who knows that the one who taught that he was a looser would become a CEU…
    people really should not doubt honesty…

  32. warson

    Honesty will do you no harm it may hurt your pride sometimes but it will really set you free! God Bless you sir!

  33. jb

    a great and inspiring story! I should share this one!

  34. Janzell

    great story sir!! +1 “the truth will set you free”.. that the real attitude of a great CEO and leader.

  35. Karina Alinsog

    This is incredibly inspiring. Thank u so much Sir Francis.

  36. rose gangoso

    perfect story sir frans!tahts really GREAT.i should also share this one,.godbless and more power to you sir

  37. Larry Cleto

    Hello Francis! Among all your articles, this one is the most memorable and striking to me. A solid integrity is one of the greatest assets that any person could have to do very well in all areas of life. Great work! You are a channel of God’s blessings!

  38. John Rupert Malan

    What inspiring story Sir Francis!

  39. marco

    Great story…..may i use it in our school?meron po kaming orientation for freshmen students… our pamantasan ng cabuyao…God speed

  40. tessa

    one of the best as well..
    honesty and humility is really everything..
    cheating is a no no..

  41. lucky

    my favorite book from my favorite author

  42. Marion Manlutac

    Very nice story indeed. Honesty is always the best to be.

    How I wish every government official in the Philippines are honest.

  43. bhev

    It’s a very nice story. for the success in life, we must be honest in all things.

  44. anne

    a beautiful story indeed…read a fairy tale version of this (prince & princess stuff..hehe) and shared it to my gr3 class..the value of honesty and integrity…..thank you for sharing it here 🙂

  45. Now that we have a new president, who seems to be on the right track in being sincere and honest, probably, a president who is uncorruptible.
    Let’s now all be honest and do our part in sacrificing for the betterment of a new Philippines.

  46. cris

    This is a great story, may i asked your permission to share this with my sales team.



  47. maria teresa b. ricerra

    hi Francis, what a wonderful story.I think this is your real life story. I’d read so many stories like this but yours is so great. full of values. Can I invite you as a speaker for leadership training?

    1. Francis Kong

      Thank you Ma. Teresa,
      I do leadership training on a regular basis both for public and more so for in-house requirements. Feel free to touch base with my associate Ms. Rara through her landlines: 7275692 / 7270291 or email:
      thanks you so much for considering me.

  48. simple_me

    Hi Mr. Kong..I really like this story..Our professor told this story yesterday.

    1. Francis Kong

      Thank you and please send my regards to your professor as well.

  49. It is a enjoyment to read your blog. The brief page style is really my type. Most important is your articles, fantastic!

  50. Michael Bagalay

    Good day, I love this story. I had a printed copy of it and post it on my small business. It really inspire me every time I read it. =)

  51. bilal

    excellent story.. a great lesson to learn!

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