Thanks to Penny for use of the image
The Two MerchantsOne day, two flower merchants set up shop next to one another. They opened for business on the same day, had the same beautiful flowers at similar price. Both took great care raising their plants and both were kind and courteous to their customers. In fact, their shops appeared to be equal in every way.
At first, the merchants even received equal traffic through their shops, but–as time went on–the first merchant’s shop became more popular among the people. The second merchant noticed this and became concerned. One particularly slow day, he decided to look into the matter. As he stepped out his door to visit his neighbour, he passed one of his regular customers leaving the first merchant’s shop carrying their weekly purchase of flowers. In disbelief, the second merchant hurried next door.
The shop was teeming with customers. The second merchant noticed his competitor wasn’t taking the money himself, as he always did. No, he was out among the aisles, talking with his customers. He would chat at great length with the customers and even would occasionally talk to the flowers themselves! The second merchant prided himself on being a serious store owner and could not understand this leisurely approach to running a shop.
He could stand it no longer. He approached his rival and politely asked to interrupt the conversation. The first merchant smiled, handed his customers to one of his clerks, and turned his attention to his exasperated neighbour.
The second merchant asked, “Brother, I am your humble student. Our stores are nearly the same in all ways, yet your results are doubling while mine are halving. I do not understand.”
“Brother,” the first merchant said, “We are the same in most ways, this is true. The difference lies in what we see with our hearts. You see your shop as a shop, your plants as plants, and your customers as customers. I see my store as a beloved home and my cherished friends are my customers, clerks and plants, all present to be adored. In that we are very different.