There was once a pair of twin boys who were identical in appearance but who were the complete opposites in everything else. One of the boys was a prophet of doom and gloom, a despairing pessimist in almost everything he did. In complete contrast the other boy was an unmistakable optimist whose enthusiasm for life was unquenchable. The huge disparity between the twins became a cause of concern to their parents and so they decided to seek the advice of an eminent psychiatrist. The psychiatrist suggested that treating the boys differently could rectify the imbalance. With Christmas coming up he suggested the parents give the children different gifts. “Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford but give the optimist nothing but a box of manure,” he said. “This will help to balance out their attitudes.”

When Christmas morning came around the parents observed the children opening their presents. The pessimist opened his first. He ripped off the wrapping paper from a very large box and discovered inside a brand new bicycle. “Oh, I don’t like it!” he immediately moaned. “It’s the wrong colour, it’s too big and I’d probably fall off and injure myself.” He discarded the bicycle and opened another present. This time he revealed the latest personal computer with several games and software packages. “I don’t like this either,” he complained, “computers are too complicated. It takes too long to work the keyboard and I’ve never been any good with a joystick! Besides, it’ll probably just keep breaking down, either that or the glare from computer screen will hurt my eyes!” The parents dismayed and turned to watch the optimist as he opened his one and only present. Excitedly, he tore off the paper and opened the box. Then, jumping for joy and throwing handfuls of manure in the air, he shouted gleefully, “Yippee… hooray… whoopee…! You can’t fool me, where is it? Where is it?” The parents looked at him with a puzzled expression only to hear him declare, “With this much manure there’s got to be a pony around here somewhere!”

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential