Goals suck – THIS is better

I have no idea who told me this story, but I was very drunk in a bar in Budapest (or was it Prague?) and I got talking to our tour guide.

She told me a story about two men who both boasted that they could become the most famous man in Budapest.

“I’ll be a legend in this city!” the boastful man proclaimed.

(Interjecting here to say it definitely was Budapest because it was about the Széchenyi Chain Bridge). 

One of them would go to pubs and drinking halls and parties telling everyone how famous he would become and so the other man made a bet.

“I bet in 1 year I’ll be more famous than you and on this day, have more people surrounding me than you”. 

The boastful man took the bet and continued telling people of all the grand things he’d accomplish. 

Become a politician, maybe even the mayor! 

He’d woo beautiful women and duel dangerous men. 

But the other man simply walked over the bridge each day, stopping one random passerby and asking them their name.

“I’ll throw this rock into the river after I call it your name, make sure to make a wish!”

He’d speak to the rock, cast it into the Danube, and let the passerby on their way.

The boastful man heard of this and thought it was hilarious. Continuing to tell people of his intentions and plans.

Maybe the quiet man had lost his mind? Talking to stones? Bothering strangers? Maybe he’d even forgotten the bet already!

But the quiet man continued stopping walkers on the bridge, throwing them in the river, and asking that person to make a wish. 

Soon enough a year rolled by and our boastful man was surrounded by hundreds of friends, fans, and party goers. 

He’d built a reputation as someone who loves to drink, party, and most of all – talk. 

He was surrounded by people, but none of his intentions or plans had come true. 

Just as he was about to declare himself the winner, a party-goer shouted out that the quiet man would be casting his last ever wish stone into the river and would pick a person near him tonight! 

Within minutes all the well-wishers, fairweather friends, and hangers-on had left the boastful man’s party to head over to the bridge. 

For the quiet man had cast 364 stones into the water and granted 364 wishes – some of which had come true. 

Young people found love, old people found money. Some sought fame or wealth or success and because of the sheer number of people, some of them had gotten lucky and word began to spread that the quiet man could indeed grant wishes. 

And so everyone at the party and hundreds more in Budapest flocked to the bridge hoping to be the last wish the man would grant. 

The boastful man made his way to the front. “Where is my boastful friend?” the quiet man asked, jovially. 

The boastful man, now humbled, raised his hand. “Clearly you’re more popular than I am” he relinquished, bowing to his quiet friend. 

To which the quiet man embraced his friend and was just glad all this was over. 

He spoke the quiet man’s name to the rock, much to the disappointment of the crowd, and threw it to the river. 

“Make a wish,” he told the boastful man to which he replied, “I’ve already had it come true”. 

Or something. 

I forget the ending because by that point I was truly hammered – but the point is this. 

Daily actions beat goals. 

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do. 

And that people will believe almost anything if the incentive is strong enough.

Posted in

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.