What kind of people live in your town?
It’s an old, old story worth retelling.
I was sure this story was in How to Turbocharge You: 6 Steps to Tap Your True Potential, or one of my other books, but I just couldn’t find it so, here it is:
A traveler in the ancient Middle East approached a sage who was seated just outside the city gates. The traveler, curious about the people in the town, trying to decide if he should pass by or pass through the gates asked, “What kind of people dwell in this town?
The sage peered up and responded, “What kind of people dwelt in the town from which you came?”
Without hesitation, the young man responded, “They were wonderful people! Warm, friendly, honest, generous. I was sad when my time came to move on.”
Now, the sage answered his question, “You’ll find about the same kind of people here.” With excitement and positive expectation, the traveler walked through the city gates into his new home.
Some hours later, a second traveler approaching the cities gates, put the same question to the old Sage, “What kind of people dwell in this town?”
Again, the Sage responded, “What kind of people dwelt in the town from which you came?
This time the traveler responded, “They were stingy, selfish, cliquish, clannish, cold, aloof, and dishonest. I was glad to leave that town.”
The old Sage responded, “You’ll find about the same kind of people here.” Disappointed, dejected, and downhearted the traveler went on his way.
A curious bystander observing both encounters, hearing the answers to the questions, said to the Sage,
“You told one person the town was filled with wonderful, warm friendly, honest, and generous people and the other that the people here are stingy, cliquish, clannish, cold, aloof, and dishonest. How can you give two entirely different answers to the same question?”
The Sage responded, “You carry in your heart the environment in which you live.” It was true then and it’s still true today. We all need to be reminded we live in an echo chamber of our own making, a house of mirrors. As James Allen said in his classic, As A Man Thinketh:
“Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking glass.