10 SEC READING: The intelligent servant

EM PORTUGUES Y ESPANOL AQUI > O empregado inteligente / el empleado inteligente

When he was staying at an air base in Africa, author Saint-Exupéry passed the hat among his friends because a Moroccan servant wanted to return to his home town. He managed to collect a thousand francs.

One of the pilots flew the servant as far as Casablanca and told the following when he came back:

– As soon as he arrived he went to have dinner in the very best restaurant, handed out generous tips, paid for drinks all round and bought dolls for the children in his village. This man hadn’t the slightest notion of economy.

– Quite the opposite – answered Saint-Exupéry.

“He knew that the best investment in the world is people. Spending in that way, he managed to win all over again the respect of his countrymen, and they will offer him a job. After all, only a winner can be so generous.”




  2. Khushey says:

    But it makes the concept of charity rather and ironically selfish!

  3. Amalia Sobalvarro says:

    Pablo: Dios te ha puesto en el camino justo para guienes necesitamos de un guia espiritual.

  4. Nando villalobos says:


    1. Liz says:

      muy cierto

  5. karina says:

    É dando que se recebe!
    Ajudar ao próximo sem a espera de recompensa, seja com bens materiais ou apenas transmitindo paz , amor e esperanca a quem precisa é o ato mais nobre que dignifica o ser HUMANO.

  6. Marie-Christine Grimard says:

    La vraie générosité est celle qui donne sans rien espérer en retour. C’est celle du coeur, celle dont le seul but est le bonheur de l’autre.
    Quand on revient au pays, on arrive les bras chargés de cadeaux, pour ceux qui sont resté lí  et qui nous ont manqué, peut-íªtre pour se faire pardonner de les avoir laissé, ou pour marquer la joie des retrouvailles. C’est aussi le sens de cette fíªte que donne le serviteur de cette histoire, et des cadeaux qu’il distribue í  chacun.
    Dans le contexte de cette époque, Saint-Exupéry, connaissant bien ce pays, et les habitudes de vie, cette réflexion, qui est un peu déroutante pour notre vision d’aujourd’hui, était probablement en rapport avec l’esprit d’alors, et les ríªves de réussite de l’époque…
    Cette phrase est très éloignée de la poésie du ¨Petit Prince” et égare ses lecteurs. Quand on regarde les photos du visage de Saint-Exupéry et son regard, je crois que c’est son í¢me d’enfant que l’on y voit briller; et que ce regard était bien celui du Petit Prince. Et quand on regarde le ciel, í  mille mille de toute terre habitée, on peut voir un petit point tout en haut du ciel, qui scintille dans notre í¢me. C’est sa minuscule planète; oí¹ Saint-Ex et le Petit prince assis l’un auprès de l’autre, regardent notre terre s’obscurcir, au rythme des couchers de soleil, en savourant le parfum d’une rose qui soupire dans la brise du soir…

    Real generosity is one that gives without expecting anything in return. This is the heart, one whose sole purpose is the happiness of another.
    When we Returns Home, we come laden with gifts for those who stayed there and we have missed, perhaps to be forgiven for having left, or to mark the joy of reunion. This is also the meaning of this feast that gives the servant of the story, and he distributed gifts to everyone.
    In the context of that time, Saint-Exupery, who know this country well, and lifestyle, this reflection, which is a bit confusing to our vision today, was probably related to the spirit of the time , and dreams of success of the day …
    This sentence is far removed from the poetry of ¨ Little Prince “and misleads his readers. When you look at the pictures of the face of Saint-Exupery and his gaze, I think it’s his child’s soul that we see shine, and that this look was the one of the Little Prince. and when you look at the sky, one thousand miles from any human habitation, we can see a small dot at the top of the sky, shining in our soul. it is his tiny planet, where Saint-Exupéry and the Little Prince sitting with one another, look at our land to darken, from the rhythm of sunsets, savoring the scent of a rose that sighs in the evening breeze …
    M Chris G

  7. Kealan says:

    There is nothing wrong with having a good time. A friend of mine, who normally has no money, got some. He invited me to Dublin so he could surprise his Xboyfriend. My friend knows I have no money, so he asked me to come and look pretty beside him, and for company. He paid for everything and bought me a new pair of shoes – got my own hotel room and a bus ticket back home. Great time.

  8. Florence says:

    Loving it !! and Loving St Exupéry ! :)

  9. Cynthia Pugh says:

    Sometimes such generosity is seen as a weakness, and many people will see such people as fools and exploit them. However fools can be the wisest people around. They just let god deal with such people who exploit so their own soul does not lose any of its shinyness.x

    1. ibrahim says:

      beautifully expressed..:-)

  10. Rishabh Bhasin says:

    I’ve read this before and this time it left a greater impact on me.

  11. ayu ayalneh says:

    A Moroccan servant knows that “happiness is something that multiplies when it is divided” and after all it’s “only a winner can be so generous”

  12. Yan says:

    Saint-Exupéry’s the Little Prince is also one of my favorites. : )








  13. Amy says:

    I am pretty sure by “winner” Coelho does not mean literally the winner of money. I think he means that we are all “winners” if we put our selves out there as winners. I may not have thousands or even hundreds of dollars but i I go out and take the little I have and help someone out that make me a winner. It is all a mind set and being selfless instead of selfish (like some millionaires)

  14. Jason Bentley says:

    I think he realized the gift given to him and in his through joy, gratitude and awareness (his victory) he gave all that was in his name at that moment for others and included a fine meal and some drinks for himself. Had he given all away he may have been a little vain or done so out of guilt.

  15. Hazel says:

    I needed this. Thank you for sharing this, Sir.

  16. life says:

    An intelligent servant – without name – just nationality and profession. What and whom did he serve? Saint-Exupéry? who thought he knew his intentions. Coelho? who seems to believe Saint-Exupery was right. I think perhaps it is all reciprocal, but certainly not everything is a business. Generosity (and of course also a human being) is and remains a category beyond business.

  17. Beatriz says:

    Giving expecting something in return is generosity?

    1. Well says:

      no. it is not generosity. it´s just normal thinking, but not natural.

  18. Daniel says:

    Vocíª anda falando pouco. =/
    Mesmo assim obrigado pelas palavras.

  19. toñi says:

    ¡Esto es impresionante! la música no deja de sonar en mi cabeza, empecé con Manolo Escobar y he llegado …hasta mí­s í­dolos de infancia:
    Los Pecos “Nos unirán los lazos de amistad”
    Janette “Cállate niña y no llores más”.
    Karina “Las flechas del amor”
    Bueno, pues eso, estoy super emocionada!
    Un saludo a todos.

    1. toñi says:

      Canciones favoritas de mi madre cuando era joven:
      Gloria Lasso “Canastos” y “Cuando calienta el sol”
      Marisol “La vida es una tombola”
      Canciones favoritas de mi padre cuando era joven:
      Antonio Molina “Soy minero” y “El agua del avellano”
      Manolo Escobar “Viva España”
      Hoy es el dí­a de la música, lo llamaremos “Mis canciones favoritas”.

    2. toñi says:

      Y hola otra vez. Otra canción más,…están todas en internet…es increí­ble!!!jajaja.
      Manolo Escobar “Qué guapa estás”
      Y ahora te escribo una canción que les enseñan en el colegio a los niños, la escribo en catalán ¿vale?:
      ” El gall i la gallina estavan al balcó
      la gallina dormia i el gall li fa un petó
      -dolent! dolent! qué dirí  la gent!
      -que diguin lo que vulguin que jo ja estic content!
      “El gallo y la gallina estaban en el balcón
      la gallina dormí­a y el gallo le dió un beso
      -¡malvado! ¡malvado!¿Qué dirá la gente?
      _¡ que digan lo que quieran que yo ya estoy contento!-

  20. Arto Hutto says:

    I made an translation of the text below into Swedish and this TED talk came in mind:

    In Swedish:

    När han bodde på en flygbas i Afrika, lät författaren Saint-Exupéry hatten passera runt bland sina vänner eftersom en marockansk tjänare ville återvända till sin hemstad. Han lyckades samla in tusen francs.

    En av piloterna flög tjänare så långt som till Casablanca och berättade följande när han kom tillbaka:

    – Så fort han anlände gick han ut för att äta middag på den allra bästa restaurangen, delade ut generöst med dricks, betalade för drinkar laget runt och köpte dockor till barnen i sin by. Den här mannen hade inte den minsta aning om ekonomi.

    – Tvärtom – svarade Saint-Exupéry. – Han visste att den bästa investeringen i världen är människor. Genom att spendera på det sättet lyckades han vinna tillbaka respekten från sina landsmän, och de kommer att erbjuda honom ett jobb. När allt kommer omkring, kan bara en vinnare vara så generös.

    Paulo Coelho på svenska: http://www.facebook.com/PauloCoelhoSverige

    (í–versättning: oLaVie, kommentera gärna. http://olavie.wordpress.com/ http://twitter.com/O_La_Vie)

  21. N.B. says:

    Cao ljepotice
    Thank you so much for the song you have sent, because my cousin is called Lejla and it was time for me to think of her :) By the way the bridge in Mostar is beautiful.
    Love will follow you…O

  22. Tarek says:

    “.. only a winner can be so generous.” No wonder the increasing lack of generosity specially between the rich (though not all). Sometimes , it looks that poor people can be more generous than rich ones probably because they know the taste of wining that follow any defeat.

    1. Heimo Kruschinski says:

      Yes that is right, Tarek. Rich people have fear in my opinion. They believe they can loose something. Not all of course, but the most i think. Maybe that was the reason why the Lord have said this.

      “Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.
      Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
      Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
      Luke 18: 25-27

      I wish you all a wonderful day

  23. Fernanda says:

    Mestre Paulo Coelho,eu gostaria de te contar a minha historia…qual email consigo te enviar ?Fernanda

  24. N.B. says:

    The magic of a hat : http://deji.chez.com/se_eng/textes/littprin.htm
    Everyone probably remembers their first flight, mine one was 6 years ago from Stockholm to London, and the sky was so bright and the Earth was magnificent as seen from above. O

    1. Ciao Bella says:

      Cao prijatelju:)
      Hvala na lijepe rijeci..to i pravi lijepog covjeka…
      Mali princ je pun toga:)
      Thank you for sharing love back to me and us…

      Love & Peace

  25. LoveM says:

    The only gifts that are worthwhile giving are the ones you cannot lose..
    Your presence.. attention.. love.. joy.. peace.. wisdom & understanding..
    The rest just purchase obligation or resentment from beggars & dependants

    Like scent of a rose
    The essence of who you are
    Is freely given

  26. Vic says:

    Genersity and love always pay back!

    1. Mona says:

      Amen to that

  27. Natalie Dee says:

    Great story!

    If we could understand the value of giving, this world would be a better place – give love, kindness, compassion… it’s not about money.

    In my life and in my work, as a life coach, giving has always rewarded me well.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely, short, yet simple story.

    Natalie :)

  28. Maria says:

    Lindo, viva Saint Exupéry.
    Estava procurando os livros q ele escreveu qdo era piloto dos correios, mas ní£o achei em portuguíªs.
    Vou comprar em ingles mesmo, e ler com um dicionario do lado.
    Bjos Paulo

  29. Jessica says:

    Good story indeed :-)

    Love and light Jessica <3

  30. ayesha says:

    when we have the right kind of spirit for generosity and when u dont need acknowledgements from people in return and when ur left hand doesn know what right hand has given away, thats generosity.

  31. Sunny Isles says:

    Happy mother’s day

  32. heart says:

    Loved a the movie; Water for Elephants”. This story correspond with the morale of your text. The main character lost his parents, his home and couldn’t finish his college degree as a certified vetenerian. He lost everything and found a life at a Circus. The scene showing how at times we voluntarily strip ourself to the last possession, was when he saw the Circus train passing by. He had to run, and the only chance to get on that train, was to throw his suit case, with the last of his belongings of the past, and run for his life. He lost his dream of being the certified veterenerian, but became in charge of the Circus animals..

    1. amer says:

      its a real story ,love it

  33. Célia barros says:

    É verdade, ní£o tem bem mais precioso do que o ser humano,ontem fui ao médico, e ní£o tive uma boa notí­cia a respeito da minha saúde, ní£o me desesperei, tudo que queria era ser feliz naquele momento.Sai da clinica entrei no shopping mais próximo e comprei um lindo presente para uma amiga de longas datas e muito querida, ní£o olhei nem o preí§o, simplesmente comprei algo que eu achei a cara dela. poxa!!!! Como fiquei feliz!!!….

  34. toñi says:

    Atención, atención! Es posible que hoy a las 5 de la tarde aparezca la amargura porque hoy es domingo ¿verdad?
    Orden en la sala por favor! Señoras y señores orden en la sala!
    Tengo la solución para que el virus de la amargura no aparezca y…si aparece…le cerraremos la puerta!
    A las cinco hay que preparar el té o el café y reunirse con quien sea (familiares, amigos,etc) y …contar cuentos o contar chistes! De esa forma desaparece la amargura, porque la amargura tiene por objetivo amargar a las personas y no soporta las reuniones donde las personas se rien y lo pasan bien.
    También podemos cantar cualquier canción, yo tengo una como ejemplo:
    “Mi carro me lo robaron” de Manolo Escobar. jajaja.
    No dejéis que la amargura entre en vuestras vidas.
    Pasar un domingo feliz y en compañí­a de vuestros seres queridos.
    Un fuerte abrazo a todos!!

  35. Heimo Kruschinski says:

    I indeed hear this gospel, but I have no faith! (Goethe)

    I love that man, the little prince, for me one of the most beautiful stories ever written. But that does not mean that he is right. “Ingratitude is the reward of the world.” The story tells only what kind of man was Saint-Exupery. A great as it seems. Although, he has an ulterior motive in his thinking. The servant has invested his money badly, in my opinion. Except for one thing. The dolls for the children. A winner may be generous. If he can afford it. But whether he earned the respect of his fellow men? I have my doubt. This is not my life experience. I recently read an article about lotterie winners. Cruel what happens. But a man with the heart of a child, certainly thinks in this way. My love to Saint-Exupery, may the little Prince live forever.

    I wish you all a wonderful Mother’s Day

    1. katie says:

      sometimes people do not understand that they are offered generosity. but this then depends on their state of their mind development.
      at this moment, the giver needs to be aware what s/he wants to give and what her/his intent is. being generous just because of expecting something back will feed the ego and is very frustrating.
      sometimes it may be time to withdraw, to stop generosity. but without trying … it does not make sense.

      state of development as I mentioned above:
      the little prince can be seen also in this way: he visits 4 or 5 planets. on each planet, a person lives in his own world. they are specialists on their planet. but they can only function within it. they do not understand at all what is going on outside because they are unable to open up. the little prince, who is doing his trip, is first also so restricted in knowing. however, making this trip, he opens up to the outside world.

      this is also what we all need to accomplish: leaving our little planet. opening up to the outside and to other possibilities and solutions. trying other glasses on, look through them, and see how the world appears then. dropping our being-convinced that we are the only ones knowing the reality.

    2. Heimo Kruschinski says:

      Thank you very much for your Opinion Katie. Much love!

    3. Arto Hutto says:

      “I belive in people but doubt mankind.”

      I think you can twist and turn everything to be bad or questionable. My belief is that if good comes out of the action, the waiter got tips, friends got drinks, the restaurant got a good customer and children got dolls, then it´s good even what his motives was. Money became joy and perhaps as a servant he could really appreciate someones generosity. And joy is never bad.

      “Only the jester can dance with the Devil and sing with God.”

      With love,


    4. Heimo Kruschinski says:

      This is certainly true, Arto. But I do not turn anything into bad. I can also remember posts where I highlighted good. I light things from different perspectives. I’m not saying that pleasure is wrong. But gratitude is not my life experience. I feel most people as a very ungrateful. And this very principle. Therefore it is pointless for me. It’s simple. That’s my opinion on the subject. Which does not mean that I think it’s good. Quite the contrary. But that’s my problem. And i am surley no jester. Much love.

      I wish you a all a wonderful evening

    5. Audrey says:

      Thanks Heimo Kruschinski and Katie, for sharing your thoughts und reminding me. I must say, you both speak to me from the soul. You express something that you can only keep in my heart. Thanks alot

  36. BraveSoul says:

    May God help me defeat any trace of Greed in me and grow my Generousity. It is not easy battle but it worth the fight. It is an on going process of Growth

  37. katie says:

    the beauty is to be generous without expecting anything back. just to provide some beautiful moments/fun.

    I like it. I got used to it. and I realize that I need to watch it now since money is tight. but generosity can come in different ways … without any money:
    having time and patience for others are just two examples.

  38. Antonia Lo Giudice says:

    The best investment is people…so true!

    I would like to share a the brief version of a story I wrote about one of the most generous people I met in Valparaiso, Chile. Julia, founded the “Helen keller” Instituto in Valparaiso after having gone through a very bumpy journey when at the age of one month old, her son caught a virus that left him deaf. Determined to teach her son how to speak, she embarked on this journey. Well, after many years of struggle, he learned to speak, read lips and is today living a “normal” life. Julia and her husband decided their journey could not stop here. “What about the other kids?” So, once again, they embarked on another life journey fighting against governments and society. This journey finally lead to the opening of an institute to give their knowledge to others to further give back to ensure that kids with a hearing impaired could pursue a career.
    What was even more amazing, Julia explained to me how sometimes she gets young adults who have the vocation in life to help these kids. However, not all of them could afford the registration fee. Julia has never refused anyone who she believes could make a difference in these kids life. “For every person I accepted for free, God has given me 2 people who are able to afford the whole fee.”

  39. THELMA says:

    Generosity is a virtue that doesn't have anything to do of if someone is rich or not. It is the thought of giving to others happiness and pleasure. Of course, people would want to give him something in return..
    He knew the 'Secret' or the Law of 'whatever you give freely it comes seven folds back'! But this has to be spontaneous or a ..second nature. Our inner-self 'knows'exactly our motivation.

  40. marie-christine says:


  41. Alexandra says:

    Ha ha ha…Good one.Now I feel much better.For I did same things,or almost.Is true,money is made to be spent,shared.Seing our friends happy,our childres faces lightening while receiving presents,have no price.

  42. I forget to say thank you.

  43. Yes this story is beautifull. I had many experineces in my life, that if you are giving, you are getting two times back.
    You give love, care, present, and you get back joy and smile on the faces and in the hearts of people.
    And many times people are giving you back more even physicaly.

    It is incedible.Your heart is jumping after two times more.
    For this has a sense to live.

  44. Adina says:

    He wanted to share his “comming home” hapiness with his family and community. He didn’t want to be different then the rest of them, he wanted to be accepted, respected, loved by community. And they didn’t love him more just because he spent his money with them, but because he respected them also and gave them the this sign of appreciation for he was again a part of community.
    It has something commun with the “Corporate Social Responsibility” (to give something back to the community that created you and let you exist and develop).

  45. Ninotchka says:

    This is so lovely. Thank you.

  46. Savita Vega says:

    This man gave “where the giving was most blessed,” something that the Divine asks of us all – this type of surrender, as a tree freely surrenders it’s leaves. Unfortunately, few of us can ever succeed at this, because all the while, even as we are dying, even to the last breath and beyond (in or written wills) we are still clinging.


    One star fell and another as we walked.
    Lifting his hand toward the west, he said-
    -How prodigal that sky is of its stars!
    They fall and fall, and still the sky is sky.
    Two more have gome, but heaven is heaven still.

    Then let us not be precious of our thought,
    Nor of our our words, nor hoard them up as thought
    We thought our minds as heaven which might change
    And lose its virtue when the word had fallen.
    Let us be prodigal, as heaven is;
    Lose what we lose, and give what we may give,-
    Ourselves are still the same. Lost you a planet-?
    Is Saturn gone? Then let him take his rings
    Into the Limbo of forgotten things.

    O little foplings of the pride of mind,
    Who wrap the phrase in lavender, and keep it
    In order to display it; and you, who save your loves
    As if we had not worlds of love enough-:

    Let us be reckless of our words and worlds,
    And spend them freely as the tree his leaves;
    And give them where the giving is most blest.
    What should we save them for,- a night of frost…?
    All lost for nothing, and ourselves a ghost.

    1. Audrey says:

      Dear Savita Vega,

      Thanks you for sharing this poem. Like it^^


  47. Terese Grahn says:

    I agree with this story. It’s very beautiful. I try to save my money to more important things but I always spend them on my friends and good music, which is the moste important things in life.

  48. THELMA says:

    Generosity is a virtue that doesn’t have anything to do of if someone is rich or not. It is the thought of giving to others happiness and pleasure. Of course, people would want to give him something in return..
    He knew the ‘Secret’ or the Law of ‘whatever you give freely it comes seven folds back’! But this has to be spontaneous or a ..second nature. Our inner-self ‘knows’exactly our motivation.

  49. morag lloyds says:

    I believe this to be true and try to live my life by this………..

  50. sido says:

    … et il sourit aujourd’hui de savoir qu’il n’est pas le seul í  investir et utiliser “la banque des faveurs “