The Parable of the Oranges, and Giving Just a Bit More

So yesterday we had our department call that happens once a month.  It presents a great opportunity for the members of the team to discuss anything new, or to share some success stories.  The main topic for the call was Greatness.  Now with such a common topic, there are so many stories we could reference.  However, I like the format of parables as I enjoy listening to, and telling, stories.  The one I shared tonight was originally posted on  It can be found here.

I am also going to include it on here because today, when I needed it most, Forbes’ website was down.  The opposite of greatness.  Thanks Forbes.

The premise is there is a guy that wants to work for this prestigious organization.  He sends out resumes and goes on interviews and lands an entry-level position.  Working hard in the current position, the worker sets his sights on a supervisory role that gives more power and more money.  He starts pursuing it the best way he knows how, showing up early and even leaving late from time to time.  This was in the hopes his boss would see him putting in long hours.

Well the role opened up, and he put in for it, but to his dismay the role went to someone else.  Worse still, it went to someone that had been at the firm for less than six months.  He went to his boss and demanded a reason for this injustice.  The boss said to him, “first, I need a favor. My wife needs oranges, can you run to the store and get them for me?”

The worker agrees, and when he comes back the boss says to him, “What kind of oranges did you get?”

“Well I don’t know, but these are your oranges,” says the worker.

“Well how much were they?” asked the boss.

“I’m not sure, but here is the receipt and your change.” replied the worker.

Then the boss tells him to hold for a moment and calls for the worker that got the promotion.  He tasked him with the same thing and when the worker came back, the boss asked him the same questions.

“What kind of oranges did you get?” asked the boss.

“Well, when I got there I noticed there were Navel oranges, Valencia oranges, tangerines and other types.  I didn’t know what kind you wanted but I remembered you said your wife needed them.  So I called her and asked her what she needed them for.  She said she wanted to make orange juice for guests at a party you are having.  So I asked the man that worked at the store which orange is best for making orange juice.  He said the Valencia oranges are the juiciest, so I bought them and dropped them off to your wife on the way back to the office.” replied the worker.

“How much were the oranges?” asked the boss.

“Well that was tough as I didn’t know how many were needed.  So I called your wife and asked her how many people were attending and she said 20 people.  I asked the man at the store how many oranges were needed for 20 people to have orange juice.  Turns out it is a lot.  I asked the man if I can get a quantity discount.  He agreed, and though these oranges were priced at $0.75 each, I got them at $0.50 each.  Here is the receipt and change.”

The boss then dismissed him from the office and the first worker sat there dejectedly and said to the boss, “I understand why.”

Greatness is about that “little extra”.  Giving just a bit more than the other person expected.  No one pursues mediocrity, but when things get difficult, those are the flames that forge us into something wonderful.

Stay Hungry, my friends!

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