Imagine you are in this situation: your wise, wealthy father is nearing the end of his life, and he wants to make sure he has passed on his most important legacy to you.  He calls you to his bedside, and as you visit together about life, and what you’ve experienced together, he lets you know that he wants to include you in his inheritance.

But, you have a choice about what you will receive, he explains.  He opens the drawer next to his bed, and takes out a stack of crisp $1,000 bills and a small coin purse.  He tells you that you get to decide if you will take the $1.5 million dollars he has in his hand right now, or the coin purse thirty days from now.

Then, he opens the purse and shows you its contents.  There is just one penny, looking very lonely, sitting at the bottom of the silk lining.  He goes on to explain that if you choose the purse, its contents will double every day for the next thirty days.  And, that you will receive whatever the final amount is at that time.[1]

What would you do?

If you are like most people, you’d be pretty tempted to take the $1.5 million right now.  After all, our “now-oriented” world likes the idea of success at microwave speed.  And, it’s just so easy to go with what is clearly seen and known, rather than take a chance on unseen potential, especially if it requires patience, waiting, and staying the course.  By the way, this seems to be true with money, business, and people as well.

The nugget in this story, the father’s real wisdom and legacy, is in the experience of allowing you to make the choice, and of giving you the chance to identify how you see the world, and act accordingly.  If you choose to take the $1.5 million dollars in that moment, you would be instantly rich, with all its benefits.  And, you may be so elated that you don’t even realize what you traded for your instant gratification.

It might not seem like much to choose the penny doubled daily for thirty days. After all, at the end of the first week, there would only be $1.28 in the purse.  The end of the second week doesn’t look too great either, a whopping $167.84.  By the end of the third week, you are nowhere near the $1.5 million you could have had, as the purse would then contain $20,971.52.  But, if you stay the course, if you’re willing to be patient, and allow for the little things to become the big things, at the end of 30 days, your purse would contain $10,737,418.24!  True story.  Do the math, and you will see for yourself.

You realize that it’s all about how you choose to see.  It’s about where you look, and your willingness to see beyond the here and now, with the kind of wisdom that a loving father would want to pass on.  This is the real legacy worth having.

So, this begs a couple of question:  How do you choose to see?  And, what do your present results and relationships (your equivalent of your own million-dollar-outcomes) reveal about your view?  Ask yourself these additional telling questions to check in around the lens you have about yourself, others, and the world:

  • Do I hold an “I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it” view of myself, others, and the situations I’m in?
  • Or, am I more inclined toward, “I’ll-see-it-to-produce-the-evidence-to-believe-it” (with myself, others, and my situations)?

You realize that people, money, and business all have this one thing in common: they tend to rise to the level of your seeing.  This is because how you choose to see drives your feelings, actions, and the outcomes you get. So, if your results and relationships (the equivalent of your million-dollar outcomes) are not rising to the level you want them to, maybe the answer is as simple as changing the way you see.

To learn more about how to shift the way you see yourself, others, and the world, so you see with greater clarity and acuity, you might be interested in checking out the first chapter of our upcoming book:  People Acuity: Revolutionizing Results and Relationships available at  You will also find there free reports and online content.

NOTE: this article was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team.  It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology.  People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.

[1] Acknowledgement: We’d like to thank Jeff Olsen, author of The Sleight Edge, for this great idea.