When Life Goes Badly

One day, a farmer’s old donkey fell into a well.  The donkey struggled for hours, but it was too deep.  There was no way out.

Trapped donkey

The farmer thought and thought and thought, but couldn’t find a way to rescue the old donkey.  There was no solution.

Since the donkey was old, and the well needed to be filled up anyway, he decided to just shovel dirt into the well and put the donkey out of its misery.

He invited his neighbors to help, and they all grabbed shovels and started throwing dirt into the well.  The donkey began to panic when he realized what was happening, but finally went quiet.

After a while, the farmer looked into the well.  He expected to see only dirt covering the donkey.

Trapped donkeyBut every time a shovel of dirt hit the donkey, he shook it off and stepped up on the new layer of dirt.  Over and over, he shook off the dirt and stepped up.

Soon the dirt reached the top of the well – and the donkey stepped up, over the edge and trotted off.

OK, it’s an old fable.  The first time I heard it, I was upset with the farmer for trying to bury his donkey alive.  The story breaks down in other ways as well.

But if I can overlook those details, there’s a good point in the story:

Life is like that.

We’re going to get hit with a lot of dirt.

It’s scary.  It’s painful.  It’s discouraging to know that circumstances – or even people – are trying to bury you.

The easy way out is to be a victim – to blame our circumstances for our misery.

The smart way out is to shake it off and step up.

Over and over again.

What’s the dirt in your life that threatens to bury you today?

What will happen if you don’t step up?

How can you use it to move forward — today?

Shake it off.  Step up.

Senior Consultant at FranklinCovey; Speaker, Author of 5 books - including "People Can't Drive You Crazy If You Don't Give Them the Keys," "I Wish He Had Come With Instructions," and "Dealing With the Elephant in the Room." (See Book page)

  • Thanks for your posts, they lift me up!

  • Carrell Halley

    Just exactly what I needed to hear this morning as I face all the dirt being shoveled on to my head…thanks

    • That’s great – thanks for the encouragement!