Mindset story: What happens when you try to get ahead at the expense of others

There was once a very successful and well-known merchant. Like all the other merchants he bought goods from one place and traveled to sell them in another. On his trips, he met many people which he befriended, shared many stories with them all, and at the same time made a lot of money on them. You see the merchant was very skilled at getting people to trust him which he took advantage of to make money. He valued money above everything else. That is why he loved his job, or as he put it, his calling. With every sale or purchase, he made he had to win in the trade and was relentless if needed be to get the upper hand. He measured his success by the amount of money he made at the expense of others.

But one day after he had just begun his journey on the road, he found himself missing his pouch full of gold coins. He panicked and went back to the last spot where he was resting. At the same spot that he was resting not that much time back, he found that some other man decided to rest also. The stranger asked the merchant if he was looking for something. The merchant looking at the stranger with a mixed look of anger and surprise responded, “Yes, I’ve lost my pouch full of gold coins.” To which the stranger asked, “How much money was in it?” This sounded very suspicious to the merchant, but he still answered, “One hundred gold coins.” The stranger was delighted, “Great, that means that the pouch I found, is your pouch!” The merchant took the pouch and thanked the stranger. But as he was about to leave he suddenly got an idea that this was much like one of his deals he usually does, and that he could get some money from the stranger. So he decided to try to cheat the stranger, “Wait one moment. I just remembered that I had two hundred coins in my pouch. Where is the rest of the money?”

The stranger look surprised at the merchant and replied, “But, that cannot be! I took no money, it is all there.” The two couldn’t come to an agreement so the merchant called out for help as he was being “robbed”. It just so happened that someone heard the cries for help and went looking for help and soon came back with some knight which escorted the two to the royal court to solve this dispute. The king was just and he hated when people were trying to get rich at the expense of others. That is why he had taken upon himself to solve such delicate matters. The king would often say that his calling was to bring order and justice to his people. Before he confronted the two, he made sure to get all the information about them from his royal spies. Once the two were brought before the court the king asked which one of them wants to explain his claim first. Of course, the merchant was the first to speak, “My king I have come before you because I was wronged by this man. I have lost my pouch and when I returned to the place where I knew I have lost it I came across this stranger, which gave me back the pouch when I confronted him about my misfortune. I was very pleased when the stranger returned the pouch to me but I was disappointed when I found out that the pouch was missing some gold coins.”

The king patiently asked the merchant, “How many coins you say were in your pouch?” The merchant quickly responded, “Two hundred gold coins.” Then the king asked the stranger, “And how much was in the pouch you found?” The stranger calmly said, “One hundred my king.” The king then took his time thinking the situation over and turned once again to the merchant, “Well, apparently, that means that it wasn’t your pouch. And if that is the case, the one hundred coins belong to the person who found them.” The merchant wasn’t able to do anything about the king’s deliberation and ended up losing all of his gold coins. On their way out the king called out to the merchant and to the stranger, “I will not allow anyone to enrich himself at the expense of others.” The stranger looked at the king and thanked him, while the merchant kept his head down and kept walking.

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