Three Questions

July 31, 2009

One day it occurred to a certain emperor that if he only knew the answers to three questions, he would never stray in any matter.

What is the best time to do each thing?

Who are the most important people to work with?

What is the most important thing to do at all times?

The emperor issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer the questions would receive a great reward. Many who read the decree made their way to the palace at once, each person with a different answer.

In reply to the first question, one person advised that the emperor make up a thorough time schedule, consecrating every hour, day, month, and year for certain tasks and then follow the schedule to the letter. Only then could he hope to do every task at the right time.

Another person replied that it was impossible to plan in advance and that the emperor should put all vain amusements aside and remain attentive to everything in order to know what to do at what time.

Someone else insisted that, by himself, the emperor could never hope to have all the foresight and competence necessary to decide when to do each and every task and what he really needed was to set up a Council of the Wise and then to act according to their advice.

Someone else said that certain matters required immediate decision and could not wait for consultation, but if he wanted to know in advance what was going to happen he should consult magicians and soothsayers.

The responses to the second question also lacked accord.

One person said that the emperor needed to place all his trust in administrators, another urged reliance on priests and monks, while others recommended physicians. Still others put their faith in warriors.

The third question
drew a similar variety of answers. Some said science was the most important pursuit. Others insisted on religion. Yet others claimed the most important thing was military skill.

The emperor was not pleased with any of the answers, and no reward was given.

After several nights of reflection, the emperor resolved to visit a hermit who lived up on the mountain and was said to be an enlightened man. The emperor wished to find the hermit to ask him the three questions, though he knew the hermit never left the mountains and was known to receive only the poor, refusing to have anything to do with persons of wealth or power. So the emperor disguised himself as a simple peasant and ordered his attendants to wait for him at the foot of the mountain while he climbed the slope alone to seek the hermit.

Reaching the holy man’s dwelling place, the emperor found the hermit digging a garden in front of his hut. When the hermit saw the stranger, he nodded his head in greeting and continued to dig. The labor was obviously hard on him. He was an old man, and each time he thrust his spade into the ground to turn the earth, he heaved heavily.

The emperor approached him and said, “I have come here to ask your help with three questions: When is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times?”

The hermit listened attentively but only patted the emperor on the shoulder and continued digging. The emperor said, “You must be tired. Here, let me give you a hand with that.” The hermit thanked him, handed the emperor the spade, and then sat down on the ground to rest.

After he had dug two rows, the emperor stopped and turned to the hermit and repeated his three questions. The hermit still did not answer, but instead stood up and pointed to the spade and said, “Why don’t you rest now? I can take over again.” But the emperor continued to dig. One hour passed, then two. Finally the sun began to set behind the mountain. The emperor put down the spade and said to the hermit, “I came here to ask if you could answer my three questions. But if you can’t give me any answer, please let me know so that I can get on may way home.”

The hermit lifted his head and asked the emperor, “Do you hear someone running over there?” The emperor turned his head. They both saw a man with a long white beard emerge from the woods. He ran wildly, pressing his hands against a bloody wound in his stomach. The man ran toward the emperor before falling unconscious to the ground, where he lay groaning. Opening the man’s clothing, the emperor and hermit saw that the man had received a deep gash. The emperor cleaned the wound thoroughly and then used his own shirt to bandage it, but the blood completely soaked it within minutes. He rinsed the shirt out and bandaged the wound a second time and continued to do so until the flow of blood had stopped.

At last the wounded man regained consciousness and asked for a drink of water. The emperor ran down to the stream and brought back a jug of fresh water. Meanwhile, the sun had disappeared and the night air had begun to turn cold. The hermit gave the emperor a hand in carrying the man into the hut where they laid him down on the hermit’s bed. The man closed his eyes and lay quietly. The emperor was worn out from the long day of climbing the mountain and digging the garden. Leaning against the doorway, he fell asleep. When he rose, the sun had already risen over the mountain. For a moment he forgot where he was and what he had come here for. He looked over to the bed and saw the wounded man also looking around him in confusion. When he saw the emperor, he stared at him intently and then said in a faint whisper, “Please forgive me.”

“But what have you done that I should forgive you?” the emperor asked.

“You do not know me, your majesty, but I know you. I was your sworn enemy, and I had vowed to take vengeance on you, for during the last war you killed my brother and seized my property. When I learned that you were coming alone to the mountain to meet the hermit, I resolved to surprise you on your way back to kill you. But after waiting a long time there was still no sign of you, and so I left my ambush in order to seek you out. But instead of finding you, I came across your attendants, who recognized me, giving me this wound. Luckily, I escaped and ran here. If I hadn’t met you I would surely be dead by now. I had intended to kill you, but instead you saved my life! I am ashamed and grateful beyond words. If I live, I vow to be your servant for the rest of my life, and I will bid my children and grandchildren to do the same. Please grant me your forgiveness.”

The emperor was overjoyed to see that he was so easily reconciled with a former enemy. He not only forgave the man but promised to return all the man’s property and to send his own physician and servants to wait on the man until he was completely healed. After ordering his attendants to take the man home, the emperor returned to see the hermit. Before returning to the palace the emperor wanted to repeat his three questions one last time. He found the hermit sowing seeds in the earth they had dug the day before.

The hermit stood up and looked at the emperor. “But your questions have already been answered.”

“How’s that?” the emperor asked, puzzled.

“Yesterday, if you had not taken pity on my age and given me a hand with digging these beds, you would have been attacked by that man on your way home. Then you would have deeply regretted not staying with me. Therefore the most important time was the time you were digging in the beds, the most important person was myself, and the most important pursuit was to help me. Later, when the wounded man ran up here, the most important time was the time you spent dressing his wound, for if you had not cared for him he would have died and you would have lost the chance to be reconciled with him. Likewise, he was the most important person, and the most important pursuit was taking care of his wound. Remember that there is only one important time and that is NOW. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person with whom you are, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future. The most important pursuit is making that person, the one standing at you side, happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.”

Most of you might have read this inspiring story by Leo Tolstoy before, although I am sure a number of you haven’t.

So, do you agree with the hermit? I do 🙂

What are your answers to these questions? And what other important questions do you have?

Have fun, always,


Sell your tickets!

July 28, 2009

Due to a number of uncontrollable events, I sometimes have to change flights or trains. This is not only costly (you bought non-refundable tickets too?), but in most cases also frustrating AND it takes a lot of extra time.

Re-ticket.comNow, I discovered a great website, These guys developed an auction platform where you can sell your tickets to someone else. Even non-refundable tickets! Research shows that 40% (or more) are transferable! You often only have to pay a transfer price (25€ in most cases). On top of that, even if you do not resell your ticket, Re-Ticket helps you to receive a refund on the airport tax! How cool is that? Most airlines and travel agents are way too lazy 🙂

So, how does it work? How does it work?

What else do you need to know? At this moment, they are mainly focussing on the Benelux area only. According to Gregor van der Made, founder of Re-ticket (interview with Gregor on Frankwatching), they will start to promote it to other countries in september too.  So, now you know where to go to if you have to cancel your trip or change the dates. Sell your ticket through!

Stilte, ik spreek!

July 20, 2009

Sylvie Verleye lanceert haar boek “Stilte, ik spreek!” in september.

Op In-Shape-for-September krijgt u reeds een exclusieve preview van dit bijzonder boek!

Stilte, ik spreek!Met dit boek deelt Sylvie Verleye niet alleen haar inzichten als Presentatie Coach, maar ook haar ervaringen als spreker en ‘Toastmaster’. Als research voor dit boek interviewde ze dertig vrouwen aan de top in België. Hoe belangrijk was presenteren voor hun carrière? Wat zijn volgens hen sterke presentaties? Hoe presenteren zij en wat werkt bij een presentatie? Sylvie schreef dit boek als praktische presentatiegids voor iedereen die impact wil hebben met zijn of haar presentaties.

Sylvie vertelt er u graag meer over tijdens In-Shape-for-September!

Om u nog extra te motiveren, bied ik u alvast een uniek hoofdstuk aan uit “Stilte, ik spreek!”. Geniet ervan!

Gratis Free

July 15, 2009

Free, hoe het nieuwe Gratis de markt radicaal verandert.Free, het nieuwste boek van Chris Anderson, je weet wel van The Long Tail, is nu GRATIS te downloaden in het Nederlands op

Free verschaft inzichten in hoe het nieuwe Gratis de markt radicaal verandert.
Free boeit je gegarandeerd! Hoe verdien je geld met gratis? Hoe verdienen bedrijven massa’s geld met het gratis weggeven van producten en diensten? Hoe concurreren met gratis? Is gratis altijd effectief “for free”?

Chris geeft een overzicht van verscheidene gratis business-modellen met concrete voorbeelden.  Microsoft, Google, Yahoo en talloze andere schitterende voorbeelden van hoe de “gift economy” of gratis weggeven van producten en diensten massa’s geld opbrengen.

Uiteraard is er ook ruimte voor praktische tips en leuke ideeën om te leren hoe anderen een gat in hun markt gevonden hebben of hoe ze hun strategie radicaal hebben moeten herzien omdat er een “gratis speler” hun markt penetreerde.

Dus redenen genoeg om het boek nu GRATIS te downloaden, of wat dacht je met zo’n titel als Free?

So, you prefer FREE in English? Of course! Be my guest and check out Chris Anderson’s blog for a free English version of FREE and an audio book (unabridged version). Also a Google Books version of FREE is available for you and you can even get it at iTunes for FREE.

Have fun for Free 🙂

Bert Verdonck
Lifehacker & Life Coach
Create, Connect & Contribute

When you think

July 4, 2009

“When you think you’ve got it, you didn’t get it!”

– Bert Verdonck –

Are you like most people when they think they’ve got it, in fact they didn’t?

I regularly give training on non-verbal communication (NVC) and when I ask a student if she got it, her NVC gives her away when she says ‘yes’ while nodding ‘no’. So  she didn’t get it. Why want people make us believe they got it? Well, hundreds of reasons exist. I don’t want to look stupid. It’s not important, let’s move on. I wasn’t concentrating and won’t admit it. I don’t care. Etc. Etc. And that’s ok, but be aware that your body might show us something else…

On top of that, there are conundrums, a kind of riddle or puzzle, where you can’t think your way out of. You have to feel it, before you really understand it. Or it’s rather difficult, because most conundrums contain a kind of pun. So, when I give the solution of the conundrum, people very often state that they got it, but did they really get it? I am not convinced.

Oh, I get it, you want examples of conundrums, right? Here are a few. If you want to reflect on these or have meaningful conversations, they always work great at family parties or networking receptions. I am not sure if people really get it, but hey, that’s fun too, right?

  • What came first, the chicken or the egg?
  • If you don’t know the rules, you shouldn’t break them (Duke Ellington)
  • When is a door not a door?

What is your conundrum? And when did you get it? 🙂

Have fun, always,

Bert Verdonck
Lifehacker & Life Coach

Win 2u per dag aan efficiëntie

July 3, 2009

Genius Shortcuts met Bert Verdonck:
Win 2u per dag aan productiviteit en efficiëntie!

Bert VerdonckWat zou jij doen met dagelijks 2 uur extra tijd? Zou je vroeger naar huis gaan of toch nog iets extra afwerken? Misschien wil je gewoon efficiënter werken en meer tijd voor plezier, vrienden en familie?

Ontdek hoe het inzetten van slimme tools zoals het leren schrijven van 100 emails in 1 uur, een eenvoudige wijziging in structuur en simmer omgaan met beelden, meer tijd voor je creëren én ook meer resultaten opleveren.

Schrijf je nu in om 2 uur per dag aan productiviteit en efficiëntie te winnen! Deze training gaat door in Antwerpen op 29 juli 2009.

Meer info ? Check de eventsite