There was a little boy who was talented, creative, handsome and
extremely bright - A natural leader. The
kind of person everyone would normally have wanted on their team or project.
But he was also self-centered and had a very bad temper.
When he got angry, he usually said, and often did, some very
hurtful things. In fact, he seemed to have little regard for those around him.
Even friends. So, naturally, he had few. “But,” he told himself, “that just
shows how stupid most people are!”
As he grew, his parents became concerned about this personality
flaw, and pondered long and hard about what they should do. Finally, the father
had an idea. And he struck a bargain with his son. He gave him a bag of nails,
and a BIG hammer. “Whenever you lose your temper,” he told the boy, “I want you
to really let it out. Just take a nail and drive it into the oak boards of that
old fence out back. Hit that nail as hard as you can!”
Of course, those weathered oak boards in that old fence were
almost as tough as iron, and the hammer was mighty heavy, so it wasn’t nearly
as easy as it first sounded. Nevertheless, by the end of the first day, the boy
had driven 37 nails into the fence - (That was one angry young man!)
Gradually, over a period of weeks, the number dwindled down.
Holding his temper proved to be easier than driving nails into the fence! Finally
the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He felt mighty proud
as he told his parents about that accomplishment.
“As a sign of your success,” his father responded, “you get to pull out one nail each day that you
don’t lose your temper even once.” Well,
many weeks passed. Finally one day the young boy was able to report proudly
that all the nails were gone.
At that point, the father asked his son to walk out back with him
and take one more good look at the fence. “You have done well, my son,” he
said. “But I want you to notice the holes that are left. No matter what happens
from now on, this fence will never be the same."