A successful businessman approached retirement, calling all his young executives in his company together to announce, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.”

He continued, “I’m going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant it, nurture it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from that seed. I will then choose the next CEO.”


One man, Jim, took his seed home excitedly, told his wife the story.  She helped him get a  pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Every day, 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.

Six months went by – still nothing in Jim’s pot. He knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Sadly, he kept watering and feeding the barren soil.

The year was up and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he couldn’t take an empty pot, but she insisted he be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach; it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life. 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 as many of his colleagues laughed.

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown!”

Then he spotted Jim at the back of the room, embarrassed, with his empty pot and called him forward. “What’s your story?” he asked Jim, and Jim stammered out his failed attempt to make his seed grow.

The CEO looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!”

“How could he be the new CEO?” the others asked, incredulously.

Then the CEO explained, “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, 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!”

  • If you plant honesty, you will reap trust
  • If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
  • If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
  • If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
  • If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
  • If you plant hard work, you will reap success
  • If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later!