The Three Stonecutters: Who Was Building a List?

During a management course I attended over two decades ago, I heard a story that stuck in my head. You may have come across it, too. It’s the Parable of the Three Stonecutters.

I searched the internet to jog my memory and found many versions. I could not ascertain who the author is but learned that Peter F. Drucker, the famous management guru, popularized it in his book, The Practice of Management (1954).

List-buildingThe version I remember is a shorter one, which is this:

One day a traveler, walking along a lane, came across 3 stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone.

Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. “I am cutting a stone!” Still no wiser, the traveler turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. “I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that it’s square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.”

A bit closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, the traveler turned to the third stonecutter. He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing replied: I am building a cathedral.”

Building a Cathedral through List-Building

I’m preoccupied with building my list right now. You may be doing the same, too.

In the light of this parable, which stonecutter are you?

Me? Pretty much all of them.

I’m cutting stones. More than that, I’m making sure that the stones I cut fit my requirements. It is hard work, alright, and needs focus and time away from caring for my family. That’s despite me working at home.

However, I’m doing this for something grand.

Behind all these challenges and hard work is a common thread that binds the third stonecutter and me.

  • We both have a vision.
  • We both look forward to materializing our cathedral.
  • We both are willing to work for it.

That’s why I’m moving on.

Hopefully, my freebie is up before I get to bed tomorrow.

How about you? Which of the three stonecutters can you identify with?

Have you envisioned your own cathedral like the third stonecutter?

Are you building it brick by brick?

Please share us your story below. That would be cool.