Sunday, May 18, 2014

Storytime Sunday #1: The Parable of the Screwdriver

The Parable of the Screwdriver

Once upon a time there was a young man who wished to build his own home. He had hired an architect to design his dream house. He had purchased a choice lot with a beautiful view. He had bought top quality building materials. He had subcontracted a company to dig a basement and pour his foundation. The actual framing of his home; the measuring, sawing, and nailing, the young man wished to do himself.

On the first day, the young man arrived at the building site. He laid out his tools, measured and sawed some lumber, and began to nail the boards together into a frame for one of the walls. It was very slow going. It seemed to take forever. The young man had never built a house before, even so, it seemed like he was making very little progress. At the end of the day, he had only nailed one board onto his wall frame.

On the second day things went even slower. The young man sweated, banged his thumb, cut his palm, and bent several nails. At the end of the day he had not even finished nailing his second board. Even though he had no previous construction experience, the young man thought his home was progressing far too slowly.

That night the young man called his father for advice. After describing his many problems, he said, “Dad, would you please come by the construction site and see if you have any ideas which might help me?”

“I’m catching an early flight to Chicago in the morning,” said his father, “but I could stop by for a few minutes on my way to the airport, if it will help.” The young man respected his father’s opinions and was very relieved that his father was willing to give him some advice. Exhausted from his fruitless day, the young man went to bed and immediately fell asleep.

Early the next morning the young man and his father met at the construction site. “Show me how things are going,” encouraged his father. The young man picked up a nail and began to hammer it into a board.

“Stop!” said the father, “I can see your problem already. You are using a screwdriver to hammer the nail. If you want to build this house you will need a better tool for driving nails. I’ve got to get to the airport or I will miss my flight, but a proper tool for driving nails should make things should go much faster.” With that parting advice, the father left.

The young man took his father’s advice seriously. He immediately went to the local hardware store looking for a better tool. He compared steel to titanium. He asked questions about wooden handles, plastic handles, and carbon fiber handles. He spent days traveling to other hardware stores to compare their selection of tools. He spent hours on the internet researching various tool makers. He made phone calls and asked in depth questions of several prestigious tool manufacturers. At last he made a selection and purchased the very best tool he could find. It was very expensive, but the young man felt sure it would be worth all the time, effort, and expense.

The next morning the young man returned to the construction site and started working on his wall frame once again. To his shock, it was just as slow and frustrating as before. Even with his new, expensive nail driver, he made almost no progress. Tired and frustrated, he called his father again. “Dad, I took your advice, but I am still having problems. Would you please come over again?” His father, of course, agreed.

Early the next morning the father and son met at the construction site. “Show me how things are going,” his father encouraged. The young man began to work on his wall frame.

“Stop!” said the father. “Son, you are still trying to drive the nail with a screwdriver.”

“Yes!” said the son, proudly. “And its  the best screwdriver money can buy.”

Moral: A better wrong solution, seldom corrects the problem.

©2014 William L. Steen

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