The Lone Cow (author unknown)

A wise man was walking with his student and conversing about the importance of visiting new places and meeting new people, and the knowledge one can gain from these experiences. They came upon a very poor area and passed a rundown house where they saw a couple with their children.

All five were dressed in torn clothes and no shoes. The house was severely neglected. The wise man approached the father and inquired as to how he managed to survive in this impoverished area where there was no commerce or work opportunity. The man answered that the family owned a small cow that produced some milk; some of which they traded in the nearby town for other food, and the rest they used to make some cheese and yogurt for themselves. That is how they survived. The wise man thanked him for his honesty and went on his way.

As they walked on, the wise man told his student that he must go back, find the cow, and throw it over the abyss. The student was shocked and tried to convince his teacher that this would be a mistake, that it would surely destroy the poor family. The wise man listened and then walked away. Being faithful, the student went back and fulfilled his teacher’s wish, but the picture of the cow falling down the abyss kept torturing him.

The student was never able to completely forget the incident. Years later he went back to see if there was any way he could help the family or possibly repay them for the suffering he had caused. As he approached the area, he immediately noticed a change, everything looked nice and well kept. He became very depressed and was sure that the family, after losing their one cow, had been forced from their house and land just to survive. He saw a new house in place of the old one, and as he approached the house he saw a vaguely familiar man.

He inquired about the poor family with the single cow that used to live there, and he was told that the same family still lives there. He then asked how they had managed to pull out of such dire poverty and become successful. The man smiled and told him that a few years ago their only cow had suddenly disappeared and that initially they were in shock; but as a result they had to develop new skills and find new ways to survive. The man admitted that the loss of the cow had been the best thing that ever happened to the family.

The truth is that all of us have a “cow” that we are clinging to, believing that our very survival depends upon it. We can’t imagine how we would survive without that thing. Our “cow” can be a business we have burned out on, a lukewarm marriage/relationship we have outgrown, a belief system that keeps us playing small or a complicated business partnership we tolerate. What we don’t realize is that the very thing that we think is essential to our survival is actually the thing that keeps us stuck – emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially.

I regularly talk to people who are frustrated and discouraged with where their business is, the type of services they offer, how their current financial situation looks or the relationships they have in their life. When I make suggestions on possible changes, they balk and cling even tighter to the belief that they can’t change the situation. They feel trapped and helpless.

In order to break free and move to the next level of income, we have to trust ourselves and make a decision to “kill the cow” (figuratively of course). Universal principals teach that in order to gain something of a higher nature, we have to give up something of a lower nature. In order to make room (emotionally, energetically and spiritually) for the new business, more clients, more money and bigger opportunities, we have to let go of the things that keep us feeling, thinking and living small.

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