The story is told of a billionaire who had a very lazy and spoiled son. As the rich man grew older, he worried about leaving his deadbeat son his inheritance. The son was a young adult, but he had never worked a day in his life.
The wealthy father decided to give his son a test. He challenged his son, “If you earn $1000 completely on your own, I will give you my inheritance.”
The son immediately went to his sweet soft-hearted mother. The son complained that he didn’t know how to earn $1000. His loving mother, ever the enabler, reached in her purse and handed her son a $1000 bill. She told him to wait a few days and then present the “earnings” to his dad.
After a few days, the son strolled into his father’s posh wood-paneled study. His father was lounging next to an open fire reading the newspaper. The son approached his father, presented the $1000 bill and said, “Here is the $1000 you asked me to earn.”
His dad replied, “You didn’t earn that,” and tossed flung the $1,000 bill into the fire.
The son slunk back to his mother wondering how his father knew. The mother reached into her purse and forked over another $1000 bill. She told him to wait a few weeks this time before giving the cash to his father.
After a few weeks, the son sauntered into his father’s study and delivered the $1000 bill. Again, his dad flipped the bill into the fire, adding “You didn’t earn that.”
The bewildered son shuffled back to his mother. His mother retrieved $1000, but this time in smaller bills. She also told him to wait a few months.
When the time arrived, the mom dressed the son in some worn work clothes her servants bought from a thrift store. She rubbed dirt into her son’s hands and under his fingernails and sent him back to his father.
The son presented the cash to his father. The father tossed the money into the fire again and repeated, “You didn’t earn that.”
The frustrated son huddled with his mother. They finally decided that they could not fool the dad. The son would just have to earn the money on his own.
After a month, the son marched in the study, and said, “Here is the $1000 that I earned.” The son handed the father the money.
The father immediately threw the money into the fire. The son dove and reached into the fire to save the money. His father smugly replied, “You earned that money. You will now inherit my wealth.”
Thomas Paine, “The Father of the American Revolution,” declared: “What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly.” In life, we value something more when we have earned it, than when it has been given to us.