Empty room test

Power outages used to be common during my school days, every outage typically lasting at least 5-6 hours. It used to be the perfect storytelling time for my mother! Sharing one of the stories that makes me think every time I encounter a challenge!

A father who was a businessman lived with his 3 sons in a village and wanted to teach them a very important lesson on resourcefulness that they would remember for a lifetime! All three sons were good natured, did not think ill of others and went out of their way to do good for the community.

They were not spendthrifts, however according to the father, they could learn how to use the funds they had much better! He wanted to understand who was better at running his business and managing funds. He thought of an idea and plans a challenge for his three sons.

He takes them to their home in the suburbs and assigns each of them a room, of equal size. It has four walls, one door and a window. He asks his three sons to fill it up with anything they deem fit and gives them each $1000. The person who fills the room to the maximum extent with the least amount of money will be deemed the winner.

The three sons think and come up with their individual plans.

First son: He uses the $700 to paint his room, orders furniture, curtains, wall decorations, hangs decorative wall art on the walls and makes the place look beautiful. He is left with $300.

Second son: He uses the $200 to buy hay and fills the room with not an inch to spare. Technically, the room is full and he has saved $800.

Third son: He uses $1 to buy a scented candle and lights it. The room is filled with light and fragrance. Technically, the room is full and he has saved $999.

The father returns in the evening to inspect and was surprised to see the different ways in which his sons had approached the challenge!

He announces the third son as the winner as he has used the least amount of resources and saved the most amount of money.

Now, this story made me think whether the third son was the most effective. What if the first son’s room was rented to someone and it earns him money going forward – say monthly $200 or $300.. who then would be the winner! We start debating it in the middle of the night. It was obvious the second son would waste the money as he had just filled it up with hay. One of my brothers added, what if the second son would want to sell hay to the horse stables nearby… 🙂 Then, how would it change the scenario? Who would be more effective?

The conversation was becoming interesting! We started adding our perspectives to it, and discussed it till the power came back! It was a fulfilling discussion! We understood many aspects about the father, sons, business, making money, who was efficient, how to create these challenges and many more!

Now, how did we conclude that night…

Completing a challenge can be done in very many ways. Our innate abilities come to the limelight in the process. Remember, money makes money. Return on investment is based on how much we invest, how long and what is the demand for the product we are trying to sell.

First person has a good sense of vision and potential to run a large scale business. He was able to think large scale, long term given what he had. While initially he might be investing money into it, break even and return on investment, with higher profits is feasible. He had a high risk, high gain attitude. Handing over the large part of the business to him makes sense.

Second person has a good sense of local needs. While investments will be small, returns will be equally small, but he can sustain himself for longer. Understanding the local business needs gives him an edge to stay relevant and have products catering to the local audience much easily. High local expertise, low risk, sustained gain attitude.

Third person has a good sense of sustaining what he has been given. He does not have a potential for business, however – whatever he has been given, he knows to make best use of it. Making him support the other two sons to handle the finances efficiently will make it a good combination. He is perfect for short term projects, short term gains with minimal scope of work.

We were all satisfied with the answers. Choices are never based on that instant, understanding the rationale behind the choices makes a huge difference in the way we would process the information and decide!

Understanding the rationale behind our choices makes a huge difference!

Who do you think is the most resourceful and Why? Do share your perspective and assumptions!

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