We forget about the reward



There is a beautiful Chapter in the children's book The Little Prince. Chapter 13, if you want to read it. Here, the little prince arrives on a planet where a businessman is working:

Business man, the little prince

The Business man

The businessman's job is to count the stars and enter them in his ledger. When the child asks him what he will do with the stars, he doesn't want to answer. When the child insists, the man answers:

Nothing, I own them

The prince asks what it does to own a star. The man answers:

It does me the good of making me rich.

The then businessman continues to count the stars.

The reward of owning the stars is the thought of being rich. You don't get to have the stars, or do something with the stars. It's the thought that counts.

I'm reminded of Steve Jobs who worked so hard to become the greatest innovators of our time. What did he do with his riches? He fell sick, and the cancer ate at him for years until it consumed him. According to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, he hated most food. He didn't have a good time eating, didn't have a good time drinking, he didn't have a good time with his family. Instead, he worked. He may have loved working, but it did not seem that the work itself was the reward.

Personally, I think his real reward was the yacht that he wanted to design at the end of his life. It had nothing to do with work. It was purely for the joy of it and to be in it with his family. He died before the yacht was ready to ship.

He has worked, he has changed the world, but he never got his reward. Only when it was too late he thought about it. Work is important, but let's not forget about the rewards.