The Three Stonecutters

When I mentioned that I failed to get in to a medical school, Jonathan of My Money Blog said, “The main thing is that if you go into medicine for the money, you’ll be much less likely to succeed and the money won’t be worth it.” I fully agree with his comment and it reminds me of this great story of unknown origin. I will repeat a variation of the story here:

Photo from ImageAfter

Once upon a time, there was a traveler who came upon three individuals working with stone. Curious as to what the workers were doing with the stones, the traveler approached the first worker and asked, “What are you doing with these stones?” Grumpily and without hesitation the worker quickly responded, “I am a stonecutter and I am cutting stones.”

Not satisfied with this answer, the traveler approached the second worker and asked, “What are you doing with these stones?” The second worker paused for a moment, sighed, but smiled a little and then explained, “I am a stonecutter and I am trying to make enough money to support my family.”

Having two different answers to the same question, the traveler made his way to the third worker and asked, “What are you doing with these stones?” The third worker stopped what he was doing, bringing his chisel to his side. He looked at the traveler with a beaming smile on his face and declared, “I am a stonecutter and I am building a cathedral”

After I read this story, I reflected on my work and purpose in life. Who am I? Am I the stonecutter number 1, 2, or 3? I am very satisfied with my job and my life, so I think I am somewhere between 2 and 3. May be I can be that third stonecutter one day.

How about you?

About the Author

By , on Sep 15, 2007
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (6 Comments)

  1. Jonathan says:

    What an ace story. I love stories like these because they can be so inspiring. It just goes to show the range of diversity that exists in the world and how different people can see the same set of circumstances in completely different ways……. Love it.

  2. Wallet Rehab says:

    I think I’m somewhere between 2 or 3. I think my problem is that I don’t know exactly what my cathedral will look like. 🙁

  3. Pinyo says:

    @DFR – so your true calling is “feed the hungry people” 🙂

    @Steve – good point…beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

    @Patrick – good luck with MBA. That’s what I should have done. My wife used to tease me and asked if I know the difference between MS (what I got) and MBA. I went into lengthy explanation and she simply said, “People with MS work for people with MBA.” Can’t argue with that. 🙂

  4. Patrick says:

    Great story, Pinyo. I’m number 2, but I want to change careers eventually (with a little help form an MBA). Hopefully I will be number 3 in a few years.

  5. Steve says:

    That’s a great story, Pinyo. It’s a question I know the answer to – I’m stonecutter #2, but I would like to be #3 (as would everyone, I think). But I guess the point of the story is that it doesn’t matter what you do so much as how you do it, so the trick isn’t to change your job so much as to learn to appreciate it.

    It’s a tough thought for a Saturday, but a good one!

  6. Ana says:

    What a great story! In fact, it sort of reminds me of my weekend job: I drive around the south side of town listening to music and talking to people…while I deliver their pizzas. The rest of the week, I learn about neat things in organic chemistry and suffer through physics class because that one is required for some strange reason. Can you tell which class I will get the most out of?

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