Motivation: The Seed That Never Grew

The Seed That Never Grew

Adapted by Azeezah Jameelah Mohamed Mohideen (

The CEO of a company was growing old and wanted to choose a successor. Instead of choosing one of his directors or children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company into the boardroom and told them: “It is time for me to appoint the next CEO and step down. I have decided to choose one of you.”

He continued: “I will give each of you a seed today. It is a very special seed. I want you to plant it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown. I will then choose one plant. The person whose plant I choose will be the next CEO.”

Jim was one of the executives who received a seed that day. He took it home and excitedly told his wife about it. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost. He planted the seed and watered it every day. After about three weeks, some of his colleagues began to talk about their plants which were beginning to grow. But Jim’s seed was not growing. Several weeks went by with no sign of progress. Jim began to feel like a failure.

Six months went by with nothing growing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed the seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues. Instead, he continued to water and fertilise the soil - he really wanted the seed to grow.

When a year finally went by, all the executives took their plants to the offi ce for the CEO to inspect. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what had happened. Jim felt sick in his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life but he knew his wife was right. So, he took his empty pot to work.

When Jim entered the boardroom, he was amazed. The other executives were holding a variety of plants which were lovely to look at. When they saw Jim’s empty pot, some laughed while some felt sorry for him.

When the CEO arrived, Jim tried to hide in the back of the room with his pot. The CEO greeted the executives and exclaimed: “My, what great plants, trees, and fl owers you have grown!” When he looked further, he spotted Jim and his empty pot. He asked him to come to the front.

Jim was terrifi ed. He thought: “The CEO will see that I’m a failure. Maybe he will fi re me!” When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked what had happened to his seed. Jim replied that he had tried everything he could but the seed would not grow. The CEO asked everyone to sit except Jim. He then announced: “Here is your next CEO!”

Jim was flabbergasted. His seed didn’t grow at all, so how could he be chosen? The CEO spoke again: “The seeds I gave you were actually boiled seeds. They were dead so they could not have grown. When your seed did not grow, you replaced it with another seed. So today, all of you, except Jim, have brought me trees, plants and fl owers. Jim was the only one honest enough to bring back the seed I had given. Therefore, he will be the new CEO!”

Adapted From: Anonymous. (2009). The seed that never grew. Retrieved April 14, 2010, from www.helpothers. org

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I can educate my learners about the wrongfulness of plagiarism by:

setting a good example i.e. not committing plagiarism myself in the notes or materials that I give them
teaching them the correct way to quote references in their assignments
explaining to them the difference between original work and plagiarised work
severely penalising them whenever they hand in plagiarised work
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