the farmer’s daughter

Once there was a farmer with a beautiful daughter. Men came from miles around to ask her father for her hand in marriage, but he was the old-fashioned type, and wanted to make sure his daughter would have a husband who provided for her – strong, sensible and industrious.

So finally he settled on three likely young men, and told them he would ask them a question to decide which one could woo his daughter.
The three young men nervously waited while he prepared his pipe. Finally, he asked all three of them a single question: “If you are working in the fields and find there’s a stone in your shoe, how long can you work?”

The first young man sprung to his feet. “I can work all day long! I can ignore the stone in my shoe until the sun sets! I am tough and I will endure the pain.”

The farmer nodded and turned to the second young man. “I can do the same, but I’ll even whistle to show I’m not bothered one bit by the stone! I can completely ignore the pain.”

The farmer settled his corn cob pipe and turned to the third young man, who declared, “I can’t work one minute with a stone in my shoe.” The other two young men laughed and congratulated themselves, declaring loudly that one of them would surely be chosen. The third man finished as they laughed, saying “I’ll stop and take the stone out of my shoe and keep on working like I always would. And at the end of the day, my wife won’t have to wash a bloody sock.”

The third young man and the farmer’s daughter were married the next spring.


The moral of the story is that it’s not always about being the toughest or the most driven – sometimes it’s about being smart. This applies almost every day in your work life and in your personal life. Don’t just keep hammering away at a problem to prove you can stick to a task. Know when to quit, reevaluate and begin fresh. And if you don’t know, stop, take a break and start again. The answer will come to you.

(photo by tibchris)

7 Replies to “the farmer’s daughter”

  1. I'd like to add a bit of my own twist to this great tale.

    It's not every a matter of being the smartest one! It's a matter of using common sense. In life, it's often not the smartest one that wins the rat race, it the one that has the common sense (or street smarts) to think it and apply it.

    Cool story, I've never heard that one before 🙂

  2. Very cool story. I think the hardest is being able to tell yourself that something isn't working, or something needs improvement. It's so easy to look past that when you're working so hard to keep things going.

  3. How many times was I told as a child that “winners never quit and quitters never win” or admonished (thanks to Winston Churchill's quote) to “never, never, never give up”? Lots of times, believe me! It's almost immoral in this culture to stop, but it's often the wise thing to do. To use another quote to refute the above quotes, “Insanity:doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Einstein) Sometimes, in the inimitable words of the old Kenny Rogers' song, The Gambler, “You got to know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em.” (I'm just full of quotes this morning!) But the sentiment is true, you do need to know when it's time to walk away.

  4. Great story. Agreed — being smart can get things accomplished much quicker AND more effectively than just being driven. The Hare can beat the Tortoise, after all.

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