A short story on success: The panda and the sticks

The panda and the sticks” is a short story on ambition, goals, discipline success and wisdom. It explains the Four Pillars of Success philosophy.

Gu Bau

Once upon a time there was a little panda called Gu Bau, who was born in troubled times, when the social media did not exist. He was a panda, like every other panda and he struggled to become a Zen Master. Being a successful Zen Master was the best profession any panda could choose – Zen Masters were very well educated, they helped other people and they were insanely rich. But not rich on money, they were rich on experience. And so everybody wanted to learn from them.

Wu Sing

So Gu Bau did what every other panda (or person) would do – he went all the way to the city of Chang-Wu and spent all his money on a huge poster of the most famous Zen Master out there – Wu Sing. He subscribed to his monthly pergament. He was reading it every month, he was taking notes and he was diligently doing all tasks Wu Sing gave to his audience. But there was something missing. Gu Bau did not feel successful or even like he was going into the right direction.

Frustrated and unhappy Gu Bau went one more time to Chang-Wu City. He was carrying the pieces of the Wu Sing poster in his pocket and he was throwing them one by one on his way. This is how dissatisfied he was with his former mentor. He even went to the shop of Wu Sing and wrote an awful review on his door. “Do not trust this guy!” – he wrote – “I have been following him for 2 years and I am still not a Zen Master!” He wrote those words with huge red letters and then he spat on the threshold.

Ta Pang

But he still wanted to become a Zen Master, so he went to the second-best mentor out there – at least according to the popular register of Zen Masters Seventh Edition. He was more careful this time and asked a few people around the shop to get their opinion. Some recommendations were positive, others were negative. Some pandas achieved success, other did not. The overall rank of the Zen Master, however, was 4.5 stars. That convinced Gu Bau to gather his will and put his trust one more time in a stranger. Ta Pang was the name of the second-best mentor out there. Gu Bau subscribed to the weekly pergament, hoping that with 4 materials to read per month he would get to his goal sooner and faster.

First success

The panda was head over heels about his new mentor and could feel the success. He made much more sense than Wu Sing, he wrote a lot clearer, his advice was more applicable. This time Gu Bau felt that he grew and that he was closer to his goal. He gathered enough knowledge, felt better living his life and developed his skills. He applied a lot of what he had learned in his every-day job, became more successful and got more recognition. For the first time in his life he was happy.

But there was another problem – he still wanted to become a Zen Master and he did not know how. There was no certification, no exam. He felt he already knew all things that a regular Zen Master should know and could do all the things a Zen Master could do, but struggled and felt bad again.

He wrote a letter to his current mentor – Ta Pang. “Dear Mr. Pang” – he wrote – “I have been following every single recommendation. I have done every single exercise. I have mastered every single skill. How can I certify as a Zen Master?” He waited and waited and after some time he received the reply from his mentor. It was a small piece of wood with a drawing. It did not make any sense. “iuo f! ss§ь”. What was his mentor trying to say?

The little panda boy

Once again feeling betrayed and sad, he went to Chang-Wu. He tried to meet with Ta Pang, but he was outside the city on a webinar. He was not sure what that meant, but then he saw a little panda boy playing in the dirt. The little panda was trying to build a castle with four sticks and a log.

Gu Bau stopped, cleared his mind and began watching the little panda play. Every time the four sticks were stuck into the ground and the log was placed on top of them the construction fell. And every time the little panda boy was cried angry, but then started again. Gu Bau wanted to help the panda boy and told him – „Maybe the sticks are too thin for the weight of the log?“ The little panda boy just looked at him, smiled and moved a little further along the street, where he could continue his play uninterrupted. Gu Bau moved again and tried to explain the laws of Physics, but again without success. Finally Gu Bau moved a little further and draw an elephant with four huge legs, huge body and even a huge Howdah on top of it. And he moved away.

The wooden sign

After a lot of years Gu Bau gradually became the best possible version of himself. He was a successful panda and had a lot of Gu-Bauiebers (panda fans). He was happy with his life, was already settled with his wife and his kid.

Then a reporter from the local newspaper visited the panda and asked him for an interview about his life. „How did you do it? How did you achieve success in becoming a Zen Master?“ – asked the journalist. After that question Gu Bau stopped and thought for a while. „By drawing an elephant.“ – he replied. „Who taught you to draw?“ – asked again the journalist. „I was watching a small wooden sign.“ – he said and looked at the present from his second mentor on the wall, the one saying „iuo f! ss§b“:

The secret of success: Pass it on!
This is the sign that Gu Bau received


  1. What is the moral of story?
  2. Can you find all Easter-eggs in it?
  3. What are the three most important takeaways for you?

Feel free to comment on the story and those three questions below and thank you for reading the story!

Next steps

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