Celebrating 36 Years with the Long Spoons Parable

Friday is Top Echelon’s 36th birthday. But of course, as many of you know, not only are we turning 36 years old, but we’re also starting our 37th year. (The birthday celebrates the successful completion of a number of years, and then the following day, you’re on to the next one.)

And sure, we could point you to the very first Pinnacle article or to a blog post that we published a few years ago titled, “27 Little-Known Facts About Top Echelon.” (And actually, Matt Deutsch has already done that.)

Instead, though, I’d like to relay a story that we’ve mentioned previously. It’s a parable that illustrates the true nature of Top Echelon and the essential way that the Network operates. It’s called the Long Spoons Parable, and a text-based version of that parable is as follows:

An old woman is nearing the end of her life. As she closes her eyes one night, she sees a bright light and is transported to another realm. She doesn’t pass away just then. Instead, she returns to the living world to find her family gathered at her bedside. She smiles and whispers to her children, “I have seen the great hereafter.”

“The great whereafter?” Her son asks.

“Heaven and hell. I have seen them both.”

The old woman goes on to explain, “I came upon a door, and behind it was hell. What I saw there confounded me. There was a dining hall filled with rows of tables, each table teaming with a magnificent feast. It looked and smelled delicious, yet the people seated around the tables were emaciated and sickly, moaning with hunger.

“As I came closer, I realized that each person held a very long spoon. With it they could reach the feast, but the spoon was too long. Though they tried and tried again, they couldn’t bring nourishment to their mouth. In spite of the abundance before them, they were starving.”

She continued, “I left this horrid place and opened a new door, one that led to heaven. Inside, I was surprised to see that very same scene before my eyes, a dining hall filled with row upon row of tables, and on those tables, a marvelous feast. But instead of moaning with hunger, the people around the tables were sitting contentedly, talking with one another, sated from the abundance before them.

“Like those in hell, these people were holding very long spoons. As I watched, a woman dipped her spoon into a bowl of stew before her, but rather than struggling to feed herself, she extended her spoon out and fed the man seated across from her. This person, now satisfied and no longer hungry, gave thanks and returned the favor, leaning across the table to feed the woman.”

“I suddenly understood the difference between heaven and hell,” the old woman said to her family. “It is neither the qualities of the place, nor of the abundance of resources, but the way people treat each other.

“In hell, we are selfish. We would rather go hungry than give the people we don’t care for the pleasure of eating.”

“But in heaven, we feed each other. We put trust in those around us, and never go hungry.”

When you feed other recruiters in Top Echelon Network—your trading partners—you don’t go hungry. No matter what’s happening in the economy or on the other side of the world, there’s no reason to hoard everything on your recruiting desk, especially if you have a long spoon and you’re having trouble feeding yourself.

If you need something, ask your trading partners. Then ask your trading partners what they need.

If you have what your trading partners need, then give it to them. If they have what you need, then they’ll give it to you.

This is the essence of membership in Top Echelon’s recruiting network. Don’t be like the first group of people in the parable above. Strive to be like the second group.

And remember: “It is neither the qualities of the place, nor of the abundance of resources, but the way people treat each other.”

It’s been a great 36 years, and we’re most definitely looking forward to 36 more!

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