Archive | July 2013

The Midas Touch

 There once lived a king called Midas, also referred to as Croesus, who ruled a kingdom called Lydia, a province in ancient Greece.

 As legend had it, Midas was known for two things: his love for gold and stupendous wealth. This made people to coin the famous saying, ‘as rich as Midas.’

Midas loved gold so much that he would visit his strong room filled with gold first thing every morning, perhaps to ensure that some thief had not stolen his treasure while he slept. He would shut the iron door securely behind him and open the windows slowly.

He would whoop with delight as the rays of the sun fall on his stockpile of gold, causing them to shine brightly. He would play with the gold for some time before leaving the room, always wishing that he had more. The more gold he acquired, the greedier he became.

Somebody who is looking for more gold is naturally less inclined to give out the ones that he already has. Midas was not known to be generous with gold.

One day, Dionysus, whom the Romans call Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, who knew all about Midas’ insatiable craving for gold, decided to teach the king a small lesson in life. He asked Midas to make a wish, suspecting already what the king would ask for.

Just as he had guessed, without thinking, Midas immediately wished that everything that he touched be changed into gold. His wish was speedily granted by the god.

Midas was beside himself with joy when he began to demonstrate his newly acquired power. He touched an oak twig in the garden and it turned into gold instantly.  He howled with ecstasy. At his touch also, a stone in the courtyard and pillars in the palace, became gold.

The petrified Midas was gripped by a frenzy of cupidity as he turned everything in the palace into gold with his magical golden touch.

But there was a little snag.

When he tried to eat bread, it turned into a hard yellowish substance that offended his teeth. He yelped with pain. When he grabbed a glass of water to ease the discomfort, the liquid turned into gold in his mouth. He almost choked himself. When he held a towel to mop his face it changed into gold at his touch. He threw the towel away out of anger.

His initial happiness slowly wore off and gave way to alarm, when his young daughter—an only child for that matter—turned into pure gold, as he attempted to embrace her.

That was the last straw.

The starving Midas begged Dionysus to take back his gift and restore his daughter to her former state, saying: “My daughter is worth more than all the gold on earth!”

The lesson is simple enough: money is not everything.

The Beauty of Sharing Ideas

On September 28, 1928, a British scientist named Sir Alexander Fleming made a chance discovery while he was working in his dingy laboratory.

Fleming discovered that a fungus, which he cultured inside a petri dish, killed all bacteria around it.

He was puzzled.

Unable to unravel the mystery by himself, he announced his finding to his colleagues, who were equally baffled by this interesting discovery. After carrying out series of experiments, they arrived at the conclusion that Fleming had discovered the world’s first anti-biotic!

The scientists succeeded in isolating the micro-organism, which had the ability to destroy bacteria. They called the new ‘wonder’ micro-organism Penicillium notatum. It was from this micro-organism that they eventually synthesised penicillin, an anti-biotic.

Penicillin was used extensively during the Second World War that occurred between 1939 and 1945, to save lives of wounded soldiers, who would have died from even simple infections. It is still the first choice anti-biotic in fighting infections today due to its broad-spectrum activity against other fungi, bacteria and viruses.

For their efforts in putting this anti-biotic to global use, Fleming and two of his close associates—Ernest Chain and Howard Florey—jointly received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945.

In 1999, TIME magazine named Fleming one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, noting that: “it was a discovery that would change the course of history.”

If Fleming had kept his discovery to himself just to get all the credit, he might not have been able to unravel the mystery. Team work helped to shed more light into his finding and he ended up getting the glory as well.

Fleming’s inspiring story shows that no man is an island of knowledge and ideas. Therefore, sharing ideas will help make the world a better place

The House that Nestor Built

Mr. Nestor, the General Manager of a successful real estate firm in Lagos, tendered his letter of resignation to his boss, yesterday, after putting in 10 years in the business.

The owner of the business was filled with sadness when he received Nestor’s letter. He called Nestor to his office and tried to persuade him to change his mind because of his wealth of experience. He offered him a substantial salary raise and other perks.

But Nestor stuck to his guns.

The business owner would not give up. He invited his star employee for dinner in his palatial home the following day. He raised the issue again while they were having drinks. His wife, who had been briefed of Nestor’s impending resignation, joined in the conversation. She pleaded with him not to leave the company, which he has helped to build from the scratch. They regard him as part of the family…

Nestor smiled ruefully. They could not convince him. There was a faraway look in his eyes, which the couple did not notice.

His boss sighed deeply and made a small request. He begged his most trusted employee to help the firm to build one more house before leaving. He told Nestor, whose mind did not seem to be in the dinning-room that he wanted the house to be one of the best that he had ever built.

Nestor reluctantly accepted to do the job because he felt it would have been impolite to have said an outright ‘No! But he decided to cut corners.

He did not wait for the imported raw materials to arrive and so he resorted to using the cheap ones that were locally available. He equally used less quantity of cement, rusty nails and substandard building materials for the project. In no time, he declared the three-bed room bungalow ‘completed.’

In all his years in the building business, the house was the worst that Nestor had ever built! At least, he has carried out Oga’s wishes…

As he submitted the key to his boss, the elderly man returned it to him and said, “You can have the key, the house is yours. You see, I have been thinking of a way to reward you for the services you have rendered to this company all these years. My wife and I couldn’t think of a better way to thank you. It is the least that we can do for you. I wish you the best in all your future endeavours.”

Nestor gaped stupidly at his boss. He was at a loss for words.

Perhaps, if he knew that he was building his own house, he probably would have built an imposing mansion for himself as his kind boss practically gave him a blank cheque to execute the project.

Many people are like that Nestor. They destroy all they have laboured to build over the years—be it a career or a relationship—through a single wrong decision which often has fatal consequences.