The Fantastic Life

Parable of the Oranges

I have a huge irritant in my life. Processing.  I hate processors.  Trust me there is a distinct difference between adding value and processing. For the first 20 years of my career, it was just me. Anything that needed to be done, I would do. AND I added value every time I touched something.

When I started adding team members, I realized two things:

First, I intuitively value add. But that is not necessarily normal.  I started talking (my team would say incessantly) about not being a processer and found people who could take processing responsibilities away from me.

Second,  I could really elevate myself, my career, and grow our team by having unique team members all with their own unique abilities add a little something different to every task/job/connection.

There is a parable that describes this value add and it is called The Parable of the Oranges.  We use this saying daily on our team and it is a key component of our This is Coppola-Cheney attributes.

All our team members know that in every email/project/communication they work on, whether it’s to a client or colleague – they need to add value.

This means:

  • Tell me your thoughts/opinions.
  • How can we make it better?
  • What do you think I should know about this that I don’t know?
  • If you were doing this for yourself, what would you want to know?
  • What can you do that wasn’t specifically asked for but would benefit the project?
  • Take initiative.

We do not want people to process – taking something, not thinking about it, and just turning it around – going through the motions.  We want purpose and intent. One of the reasons we have put together a team with different skill sets is that everyone on our team adds a unique perspective that someone else may not think about. To me, this is what makes employees irreplaceable, and what makes our clients love us. We add value to every transaction and to every project we work on.

The below article is the perfect example of defining the difference between value-add and processing and is a great reminder to do everything with a purpose.

Where can you add some parable of oranges in your life?

Rule #16 from my book The Fantastic Life: Don’t Waste Time
Over the years, I wasted so much time trying to be a processor when I wasn’t one. Building a team and bringing in other people to help me add value got me miles ahead and closer to my Fantastic Life.


The Parable of the Oranges

Excerpt from “Living with a  Purpose: The Importance of ‘Real Intent'”

By Randall L. Ridd
January 11, 2015

I would like to share a modern-day parable that I will call “The Parable of the Oranges.” As you listen, consider what this story teaches you about the power of real intent.

There was a young man who had ambitions to work for a company because it paid very well and was very prestigious. He prepared his résumé and had several interviews. Eventually, he was given an entry-level position. Then he turned his ambition to his next goal—a supervisor position that would afford him even greater prestige and more pay. So he completed the tasks he was given. He came in early some mornings and stayed late so the boss would see him putting in long hours.

After five years a supervisor position became available. But, to the young man’s great dismay, another employee, who had only worked for the company for six months, was given the promotion. The young man was very angry, and he went to his boss and demanded an explanation.

The wise boss said, “Before I answer your questions, would you do a favor for me?”

“Yes, sure,” said the employee.

“Would you go to the store and buy some oranges? My wife needs them.”

The young man agreed and went to the store. When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”

“I don’t know,” the young man answered. “You just said to buy oranges, and these are oranges. Here they are.”

“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” was the reply. “You gave me $30. Here is your receipt, and here is your change.”

“Thank you,” said the boss. “Now, please have a seat and pay careful attention.”

Then the boss called in the employee who had received the promotion and asked him to do the same job. He readily agreed and went to the store.

The wise boss said, “Before I answer your questions, would you do a favor for me?”

When he returned, the boss asked, “What kind of oranges did you buy?”

“Well,” he replied, “the store had many varieties—there were navel oranges, Valencia oranges, blood oranges, tangerines, and many others, and I didn’t know which kind to buy. But I remembered you said your wife needed the oranges, so I called her. She said she was having a party and that she was going to make orange juice. So I asked the grocer which of all these oranges would make the best orange juice. He said the Valencia orange was full of very sweet juice, so that’s what I bought. I dropped them by your home on my way back to the office. Your wife was very pleased.”

“How much did they cost?” the boss asked.

“Well, that was another problem. I didn’t know how many to buy, so I once again called your wife and asked her how many guests she was expecting. She said 20. I asked the grocer how many oranges would be needed to make juice for 20 people, and it was a lot. So, I asked the grocer if he could give me a quantity discount, and he did! These oranges normally cost 75 cents each, but I paid only 50 cents. Here is your change and the receipt.”

The boss smiled and said, “Thank you; you may go.”

He looked over at the young man who had been watching. The young man stood up, slumped his shoulders and said, “I see what you mean,” as he walked dejectedly out of the office.

What was the difference between these two young men? They were both asked to buy oranges, and they did. You might say that one went the extra mile, or one was more efficient, or one paid more attention to detail. But the most important difference had to do with real intent rather than just going through the motions. The first young man was motivated by money, position, and prestige. The second young man was driven by an intense desire to please his employer and an inner commitment to be the best employee he could possibly be—and the outcome was obvious.

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