The Grasshopper & The Ants is one of Aesop’s Fables, it tells of a lazy grasshopper enjoying the sun, while the ants work feverishly, building up their nest and their stores for winter. When winter comes, the grasshopper has nothing and goes begging to the ants and is turned away. The moral of the story is all about hard work and planning for the future. However, there is another view of the fable, that views the ant’s industry as mean and selfish.
We learn that hard work and planning for the future will help us succeed in the world, almost nothing is said about charity and selflessness, those attributes are preached and alluded to, but rarely are those strengths and benefits extolled as virtues in the business world.
Here is an interesting debate, Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft currently has a fortune estimated at around $87.4 billion, if that were shared out equally with every one of the 7.4 billion people in the world each person would get $11.81 (give or take). It’s not much for us, but it shows the extent of his wealth.
Many of us would say that that’s a rare situation for Bill Gates to be in, others would scoff and say that no-one needs or deserves that much money, and he should be made to share it out. But how and who to?
Let’s say for example he gave each person 11 dollars, that would buy a meal for a day, after that they would be left wanting another 11 dollars, so he has helped 7.4 billion people for one day, and now needs ‘help’ himself. How many would hate and abuse him for that? Probably as many as there are now, saying that he doesn’t need that much money. So what else could he do, he and his wife have chosen to start foundations and charitable organizations that seek to end suffering and increase our understanding, promote greater awareness of critical issues, try and help us learn and move towards a brighter future. But still, some would degrade all the good things he does because of his ‘position’.
He has worked hard and planned out a future, but in many circles despite all the philanthropic efforts, he is deemed to be mean and selfish because of what he has amassed, and his company at times is thought of one of the great evil companies of the world.
The crux of the matter is it’s all about perception, one person’s planning, and hard work is another’s selfishness and meanness. We work hard on our businesses, and we should be proud of all we achieve, but also we should always be aware that we do have a duty to help where we can too, and that brings its own set of rewards. If people don’t appreciate it, so what. Do what you can, when you can, and your heart’s contentment will be the reward. There is nothing more you can do because you can’t please everyone. You can only please yourself, knowing you did what was right.