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How Much Do You Really Need?

  • Dan Miller
  • 2009 24 Jun
How Much Do You Really Need?

There is a wonderful story by Leo Tolstoy, written in 1886.  The much shortened details go something like this: 

There once was a peasant named Pahom who worked hard and honestly for his family, but had no land of his own.  By scrimping and saving, he managed to buy 40 acres of land.  He grew his own hay, cut his own trees, and fed his own cattle.  Then he heard about land in a neighboring territory where the land was so good that rye grew as high as a horse. 

Pahom’s heart was filled with new desire.  So he bought land here and was ten times wealthier than he had been.  Then one day a passing merchant told Pahom that he had purchased thirteen thousand acres of rich land for only one thousand rubles.  Pahom traveled more than three hundred miles to this rich land to explore for himself.  The chief of the land told him the price was always the same:  one thousand rubles a day.  As much land as you can walk around in a day is yours and the price is one thousand rubles.

The next day Pahom began at daybreak.  He walked toward the rising sun, moving quickly through the lush countryside.  He sparingly drank his water and ate his bread to keep himself refreshed. 

Several times he saw areas that he knew would do well and added them to his circle.  But now his feet were sore, he was exhausted from the heat, and his legs began to fail.  Still he walked on. 

Now the sun was close to the rim and was about to set but he was also quite near his aim.  Just a little more land and he would hurry back to the starting point.  He added a small pond and a few trees he knew would add to his wealth and his family would enjoy.  He ran on, throwing off his coat, his boots, his flask and his cap.  He gathered his last strength and ran on.  As he neared the final goal, his legs gave way beneath him, and he fell forward and clasped the goal marker in his hands.

His servant came running up and tried to raise him, but he saw that blood was flowing from his mouth.   Pahom was dead!  His servant picked up a spade and dug a grave long enough for Pahom to lie in.  Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.

Sometimes our quest for more defies common sense.  Guard against being so busy making a living that you end up not having a life.

From the Bible: 

“A rich man’s land was very productive.  He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops?  I will do this,’ he said.  ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods there.   Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years.  Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’’’  “But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life is demanded of you.  And the things you have prepared – whose will they be?”

“That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:16-21 (HCSB)

Direction for Today:

Is your desire for more an attempt to help others more or just to accumulate more?

 Dan Miller is today's leading authority and personality on careers and 'Work You LoveTM'. As bestselling author of 48 Days To The Work You Love, and now No More Mondays, Dan reaches over a million people every month ia his newsletter, podcast, and blog with the best trends and opportunities in the workplace and small business. For more information, visit