30 SEC READING: The power of the words

Illustration by Ken Crane

by Priya Sher

Two young kangaroos were playing in the forest when they fell into a very deep pit. They tried to jump out but couldn’t jump high enough to get out of the hole.

Meanwhile, a big group of kangaroos started gathering above the pit – the pit was very deep and the gathered onlookers shouted to the two young kangaroos that it was impossible for them to get out. The older one of the two kangaroos heard the disheartening words of the spectators and after a while gave up and fell asleep, whilst the younger kept jumping and trying harder.

Finally, he managed to jump out of the hole – the spectators were shocked and asked the kangaroo,
“When we had told you so many times that it was impossible to get out, what was the reason that you tried even harder?”

The kangaroo was shocked because as he was partially deaf. He told them:
“Looking at all of you standing there cheering me gave me the strength to succeed in my mission of getting out of the pit.”

Always remember the affect your words have on others.

To read the full story, please visit Priya Sher’s Blog


  1. Gonzalo says:

    Deberia taparme los oidos mas seguido y no escuchar a los demas.

  2. Mariana says:

    Howdie Paulo! How about you start writing a book of short stories? Don’t you think it could work?

    1. Marie-Christine Grimard says:

      Vous avez déjí  publié deux ouvrages réunissant des textes courts, qui sont dans leurs titres franí§ais” Comme le Fleuve qui coule” et le grand “MAKTUB” en 2005 qui sont un recueil des textes que vous souhaitiez nous faire partager. Je m’en sert certains jours, quand j’ai besoin d’un signe, avec la main du hasard, j’ouvre le livre, et je lis le texte qui se présente. De nombreuses fois, le texte qui apparaissait devant mes yeux, répondait í  la question que je me posais ce jour lí . je souhaite í  Mariana de les lire et de pouvoir les utiliser ainsi. Mais un nouveau recueil de ce genre serait bien sí»r, un nouveau trésor í  partager pour nous, surtout s’il est enluminé par le génie coloré de Ken Crane…
      Merci d’avance…
      You already have published two books bringing together short texts, which are French in their titles “As the river that flows” and the general “Maktub” in 2005 which is a collection of texts that you want to share with us. I use it some day, when I need a sign with the hand of chance, I opened the book and I read the text that appears. Many times, the text that appeared before my eyes, answered the question I asked myself that day. Mariana, I wish you to read and can use them as well. But a new book of this kind would, of course, a new treasure to share for us, especially if it is illuminated by the genius of Ken Crane colorful …
      Thank you in advance …

    2. Heimo Kruschinski says:

      It is really reassuring that people are different. If I open a book, not only by Paulo, then turns to me mostly a question. Then i try to answer. But it is really reassuring to know that Paulo’s books answer your questions. This saves a lot of work on thinking. The next book by him I try that, too. Since we’re talking about the power of words. How insulting an author? What I do not think of you dear Marie-Christine

      I wish you a wonderful evening

  3. Priya Sher says:

    Dearest Paulo thank you so much for putting this story on your blog – thank you dear Ken for your wonderful illustration and thank you to all the lovely readers for their very kind comments.




    que tal devemos hacer oidos sordos a las cosas negativas y confiar y creer en uno mismo, los limites se los pone uno,por lo tanto hay que saltar mas alto para salir de donde estamos atorados.

  5. barbara says:

    What a lovely story. Thank you.

  6. AMK says:

    I loved this story, and I like how you referenced kangaroos. I’m from Australia and just had my debut novel certified the Number One Bestseller on iTunes, it is called ‘Vagabond’ and it is a story about never giving up, and finding the courage to follow your dreams and listen to your heart.

    It was inspired by The Alchemist, namely when I was reading it on a Greek beach in 2010. It changed my life, and allowed me to never give up on my dreams. Now, even though I don’t have an agent, I cheered and tried my hardest, and my book has become the number one bestseller. I hope that you enjoy it Paulo, it was because of you that I achieved this.

    Have you been to Australia before? I’m curious, as nobody ever references kangaroos for anything…. But I like it!

  7. Haiku says:

    Just observed how someone’s words and the intention behind those words being malicious, sarcastic and harmful, really holds no power in the larger scheme of things….known as the universe!

  8. anil bhave says:

    Irrespective of the words, apprise, encouragement etc, from the others make us to move forward upto certain extent, but our commitment, attitude and sincerity always count to turn impossible into possible.
    With love and gratitude.

  9. Dyeng Libut says:

    Good to realize that we as humans are felt by others through our mere presence with or without the uterrance of a single word.

  10. ismael says:

    toda la rason el decir algo podemos ayudar o perjudicar a las personas hay k tomar en cuenta como decimos las cosas

  11. ismael says:

    toda la rason hay k saber con que palabras ablamos por k es lo mas poderoso k tenemos y podemos alentar o undir a una persona con solo dicir algo

  12. Malu says:

    Las historias que cuenta Cohello en sus libros son tan simples y sencillas y fáciles de interpretar,me encanta, cualquier persona los puede leer, incluso los niños, sigue mandando mas obras literarias a Ecuador para deleitarnos con tan fantásticas historias que parecen reales. Un saludo para Pablo

  13. karina says:

    As palavras sim, mas o sentimento e a forca de vontade teem muito mais…
    Se eu acredito na minha forca interior, nao há palavras que possa me desanimar ou convencer ao contrario, apesar de que estas sao energias que podem surtir grande efeito.

  14. Geert says:

    Someone said that it was impossible
    Than another one came who didn’t know this and did it

  15. rohitha(rohini) says:

    words hv the greate power of motivate 2 others…..

  16. Sheela Nandini says:

    Thank you for sharing this story,Priya and Paulo.
    Been looking at your tweets lately, Priya, and I like what I see:) Thanks for that.

    Just remembered this so thought to share. I was at the diagnostic center this morning for my pelvic scan and while waiting in the lounge noticed this young girl when she stood up.She was there with her mother.
    The message(words in white) on her black T shirt made me smile:

    “If you like me raise your hands.If you don’t then raise your standards”


  17. criststar11 says:

    Here the italian translation of the text, sending you light, Cris

    Due canguri giovani che stavano giocando nella foresta erano caduti in un pozzo molto profondo. Cercarono di saltare fuori, ma non potevano saltare abbastanza in alto per uscire dal buco.

    Nel frattempo, un nutrito gruppo di canguri inizií² a radunarsí­ al di sopra de lpozzo – il pozzo era molto profondo e le persone presente gridarono ai due giovani canguri che era impossibile per loro uscire. Il pií¹ vecchio dei due canguri sentí­ le parole sconfortanti degli spettatori e dopo un po ‘abbandoní² e si addormentí², mentre il pií¹ giovane che era piu tenace proví² a saltare ancora di pií¹.

    Infine, riuscí­ a saltare fuori dalla buca – gli spettatori erano rimasti scioccati e interrogarono il canguro “Per quale raggione dopo che ti abbiamo detto tante volte che era impossibile di uscire, hai tentato ancora di pií¹?”

    Il canguro rimase scioccato perché, come era parzialmente sordo. Egli disse loro: “Vederre il sostegno di tutti voi lí¬ me mi ha dato la forza nella mia missione di riuscire ad uscire dalla fossa.”

    Ricordate sempre l’effetto che hanno le tue parole sugli altri.

    1. Priya Sher says:

      Thank you so much for your translation!

      Kind Regards


  18. Сергей Руотсалайнен says:

    Завалокло туманом старый город
    Сергей Руотсалайнен
    Заволокло туманом старый город,
    По серым стенам гладит холод.
    И льда, холодного, наросты
    сползают вниз, как это просто…

    Сначала сизым быть туманом,
    Потом водой на стенах талой,
    Ну, а потом – застывшим льдом
    Висеть под разводным мостом.

    Вот так и у людей – уходит
    Любовь неведомо куда…
    Туман сначала,следом холод…
    Потом стекает вниз вода.
    А напоследок, в отношеньях –
    Застывшая лишь глыба льда.

  19. deepa bhatia says:

    brilliant words to keep self motivated..keep sharing more

  20. Yan says:

    Very often, we have to confront discouraging words from those who we are very close to: parents, friends, partners.
    There are times that they are right, but not always. I will try to think it over, then make my own choice. It takes a lot of energy and courage to do that, but it worths it.



  21. Empié says:

    La verdad es que ahora solo cuento con los ahorros, y tampoco es demasiado dinero aunque no gastando mucho puedo aguantar un tiempo.

    Ayer en clase de tai chi, mi profesor nos contó que uno de sus profesores da cursos de chi kung muy avanzado con monjes taoistas, los cursos son caros, pero después de haber ahorrado 6000 euros para dar un curso de un mes, al llegar a la montaña el maestro le dijo que quemara la mitad. Para mi es un acto muy simbólico, un acto de entrega, de fe, de que a pesar de todo se confí­e. Supongo que a ciertos niveles, en la evolución, nada te debe detener, la pobreza puede ser un terreno perfecto para desarrollar cierto tipo de cualidades y de aprendizaje, si no se pasa por ahí­ ciertas cosas no se conocen. Seguramente en el agujero en que calló el canguro aprendió algo muy importante, algo que solo se puede aprender si uno cae, y lucha, y lucha…

    No se si es por el paso del tiempo, por el esfuerzo, o porque las heridas se cierran, pero cada vez me importa menos no tener muchos recursos, ni tener la forma de encontrarlos, quizá todo esto por lo que he pasado haya forjado estabilidad en mi, si es así­ el precio está bien pagado.

    Por cierto, me invitaron a un curso que va a dar es caro a barato según se mire, según el dinero del que se disponga, según la actitud que se tenga. La verdad es que es una oportunidad única de conocer a un maestro, y aunque sea un dí­a me pasaré, quizá deba de quemar parte del dinero que me queda, sin duda lo vale, hoy todaví­a me lo pienso, porque no quiero llegar al punto de tener que pedir dinero, quizá mañana no me importe nada y simplemente
    esté con mi profesor, con mis compañeros, con sus compañeros, con el maestro, haciendo algo a lo que se que he venido a este mundo, me encanta…

    Un saludo, empiezo a sentir paz y alegrí­a, no me afectan muchas de las cosas que antes lo hací­an, sin duda, subo.

    Hasta pronto.

    1. Empié says:

      Ayer vi un poco de la pelí­cula Cinema Paradisso, preciosa. Contaron una historia en la que otras veces no me habí­a fijado:

      “Una princesa le dijo a un soldado, si estas cien dí­as de pie delante de mi ventana, me casaré contigo. Era el único deseo del valiente joven, así­ que aguanto la lluvia y el frí­o en invierno, los insectos en la primavera, el sofocante calor del verano, la princesa de vez en cuando miraba por la ventana para ver si el soldado estaba allí­ de pie; la última noche el soldado se puso de nuevo en pie y se fue…”

      Creo que en su momento no lo entendí­, ahora lo interpreto según lo que siento. He estado toda mi vida luchando por hacer lo correcto, por transcender, por pasar el umbral y ser una persona justa y honesta, lo único que he recibido a cambio han sido golpes, humillaciones, hambre, sed y pobreza. Tengo la sensación que no soy yo es que tiene que esperar, ya está bien. Lo único que quiero es una vida normal, creo que me la merezco, el resto para quien lo quiera, la princesa no es digna del soldado.

      Un saludo.

      PD: Que conste que nunca dejaré de querer a la persona que estuvo allí­ pese a todo cuando todos los demás salieron corriendo. Y que estoy agradecido a todos los que me ayudaron a seguir vivo en medio del desierto. Gracias a todos.

      “Dios mí­o dime cual es la forma de diferenciar,
      cuando el orgullo es orgullo o simplemente dignidad”

  22. katie says:

    it is a nice story ….
    it shows how much the inner strength is there to accomplish things, and how much we look & seem to depend on what the others say: the one who could hear the discouraging words just gave up. the one, that could not hear them interpreted them in a different way.

    however, the story forgets one thing: if you lose one sense, the remaining senses get more intense & try to balance out the missing one. not well hearing often means that one becomes very sensitive to body language and facial impressions. Believe me, deaf people well recognize the content of words that they cannot hear. let’s go beyond stereotyping even in a small story. instead let’s open up to how the universe of the “handicaps” looks :o)

  23. AbdulAziz Mohammed says:


    Like the others I did read the same story before but instead of Kangaroos, frogs are used. Regardless, the story never gets old, Its one of my favorites, it’s great to read such stories once in a while, thanks for sharing Paulo.


  24. Breda says:

    I enjoyed your story.
    Well done.
    I agree words can be encouraging ,kind , tender and healing and help us to make positive change in our daily lives. ..or cruel and toxic and stress provoking.
    Including our own self talk.
    Its lovely when a story is told through the world of animals… who can not speak through words.
    They are brave and wonderful in the challenges they face in their lives.

  25. jackienoriega says:


  26. Ernestina Navarrete Qlaya says:

    nunca se debe dar por vencido así­ uno caiga en lo profundo del desespero siempre hay un mañana para seguir avante, gracias por esos temas tan interesantes

  27. jessie says:

    you always post what i need to hear,good on you mate.(thanks for i bit of dreamtime too!)

  28. Olga says:

    En realidad este es un antiguo cuento australiano que los chinos e ingleses adaptaron con sapos. Esto me lo acaba de certificar mi hermano.

    This is an old australian story that english and chinese adapted with frogs.

    1. Olga says:

      Y la ilustración está linda, Ken.

      Paulo, quiero contarte que acabo de pasar el dí­a en la quinta reunión cuatrienal de mi familia. Fue un sentimiento fantástico, vinieron parientes de varias partes del continente. Mi familia desciende de una de las casas más antiguas del pueblo judí­o, atravesando por la tradición sefardí­. Conocí­ a algunos ilustres parientes con quienes estaré en contacto para seguir profundizando en esta fascinante historia aunque está claro que el dí­a de hoy es el que realmente importa.

      Te quiero mucho.

  29. Annie says:

    dear Ken your illustration is fantastic!!!
    to me it resembles a doe and not a kangaroo, but I like it even more for this :))

    so it seems sometimes it’s better to be a bit Beethoven-ish… you avoid the words of those who are afraid to believe and dream, of those who don’t believe in the impossible..
    but I also love that the kangaroo-doe assumed that others were cheering for her/him, and didn’t think at all that they would do the opposite thing..

    well I know a doe can’t jump as the kangaroo but, i believe in the impossible :)

    Love and Gratitude

  30. El don de las palabras y la sensatez, destruyen las barreras y conceden virtudes!

  31. Marie-Christine says:

    Lux ury is yru
    The luxury of words is to go where the light shines.
    with love

  32. Marie-Christine Grimard says:

    Goethe a dit: “si vous avez confiance en vous-míªmes, vous inspirerez confiance aux autres “.
    Ici c’est l’exemple inverse, le fait que les autres vous fasse confiance, vous aidera í  sortir de votre trou. C’est une belle métaphore, merci í  Priya Sher, pour cette histoire courte mais intense, et merci aussi í  Ken pour cette nouvelle lumineuse illustration, brillante et bleue comme je les aime!
    Probablement que la force est en nous, mais que nous ne le savons pas. Et ce n’est qu’en voyant la confiance brilller dans les yeux de celui qui nous aime, que nous pouvons avancer vers la lumière. Nous ne sommes pas des loups solitaires, et c’est le groupe qui nous donne son énergie. Les sportifs le savent bien, í  l’instant requis, la force du groupe fait bouillir leur adrénaline et les porte vers la victoire. Il reste í  espérer que cette force vive reste au service du bien, on a connu d’autres exemples oí¹ des íªtres humains arríªtaient de penser par eux-míªme pour suivre les directives d’un dictateur, habile í  aranguer les foules, et se révélaient capables de commettre les pires horreurs. Que la providence nous laisse notre libre arbitre ! Ami, aide-moi, j’ai besoin de toi, mais si tu es mon ami, ne me pousse pas vers le goufffre…
    Bon dimanche, cher Paulo (…et vivement demain pour le podcast)

    Goethe said, “if you trust in yourself, you will inspire confidence in others.”
    Here it is the opposite example, the fact that other trusts you, you help leave your hole. It’s a beautiful metaphor, thank you Priya Sher, for this short but intense history, and thank you to Ken for this new illustration light, bright and blue that I like!
    Likely that the force is in us, but we do not know. And it was only seeing brilller confidence in the eyes of one who loves us, we can move towards the light. We are not lone wolves, and this is the group that gives us energy. Athletes are well aware, at the time required, the strength of the group boiled their adrenaline and carries to victory. Let us hope that this vital force is for good, there have been other examples where people stopped to think for themselves to follow the guidelines of a dictator, able to aranguer crowds, and prove capable of committing the worst atrocities. That Providence allows us our free will! Friend, help me, I need you, but if you’re my friend, do not push me to the goufffre …
    Good Sunday, dear Paulo (… and strongly tomorrow for the podcast)
    M. Christine G

  33. Susan says:

    praise teaches us to believe …criticism to doubt…when we believe..all is possible. Like the Kangroo in this story…when we see others believing in us ..we know we are supported and cannot fail to move on.

  34. Lars Berewinkel says:

    Nice! Good kangaroo.
    I was told to chase the birds away carpet seed and as motivation the others should cheer me up, while I chase them.
    Your story reminds me of the words of the occupational therapist Stefan, who said that to me.
    Thank You for your story and the illustration.

  35. miriam vivas says:

    Aveces debemos ser sordos al pesimismo de los demás que nos rodean y solo escuchar esa voz de animo que llevamos dentro y que nos obliga a no desfallecer.

  36. The story shows that words can have a positive or negative effect on others. They can motivate or detroy someone.
    This is so true – thank you for sharing this story with us, Paulo!

  37. el respeto al derecho ajeno es lapaz….benito juí rez.
    con lavara que mido con esaserè medido.
    todo se devuelve tarde que temprano…..las leyes de la vida no pueden ser cambiadas.
    saludosdesde Mèxico,Coatzacoalcos,Veracruz

  38. nina says:

    Wonderful story!Many people don’t realize that the power of their words can very much impact on someones life.It is hard to ignore opinion of the group and we all sometimes get discouraged by the people around us.

  39. jasmin says:


  40. Happy Woman says:

    balanced optimist, effort plus good state of mind….

  41. Sherin says:

    Always encourage others… :) Slow n steady wins d race

  42. Rahmath says:

    Dear sir,
    I love the stories that you share.

  43. Gabriela says:

    Great Lesson!, Thanks for sharing!

  44. hayrun says:

    without words how can you explain sea?
    only way that you can explain sea is to be sea…
    with words we are prisoners.

  45. Leibnyz says:

    Yes, words can make you try harder, but not one” of the friends” tried helping. So, la moraleja es facil: Ayudate que nadie te ayudara.

  46. FLOSSEAU says:

    Hi Paulo
    i like your writtings
    espsechelly MAKTUB beautiful
    Enjoy your day
    friendly .

  47. MARA VERA says:

    sea con canguros o ranas lo importante es la forma como llega a nuestra conciencia que no debemos rendirnos debemos seguir así­ todo parezca imposible siempre podemos lograr hasta los retos mas difí­ciles tomemos lo bueno de la fabula y no critiquemos de quien es o no lo importante es compartir las cosas positivas … BENDICIONES A QUIEN LEA ESTO

  48. Mohammed Shera says:

    this story was based on an old english story which is about two frogs. Here the writer just changed the frogs to kangaroos! excellent plagiarism Mr Writer !!!

    1. Priya Sher says:

      Dear Mohammed, please think before you write derogatory comments – I’m certain you had not understood the message of the story with the frogs, birds or kangaroos at all.


  49. beatrice says:

    Lol this is a rip off of a old chinese fable except the chinese one had to do with frogs..

    1. Summer says:

      Beatrice I must say with regret, reading comments like yours just shows how ones words can really show their character – the story is an old traditional tale which many of us have read – Priya Sher often adapts old tales that we often need reminding of in our fast paced life (see her blog). Thank you Priya and thank you Paulo Coelho for your amazing blog. BTW I loved your article on new relationships.

      Kind Regards


  50. navyath says:

    i have read a similar story where frog is used in contrast to kangaroo..it displays the fact that one should believe in his conscience rather than people around,your writings are somewhere related to the base of ALCHEMIST..which quotes a simple thesis that NEVER GIVE UP..thanks for sharing it in your blog..:)