Friday, November 20, 2009

The Ultimate Gift

My rating: 3/5 (not the most literary but a great message)
Pages: 154  -  Speed: Fast
Subject: Business, Money, Service

This is a fictional story about a young man troubled by life who finds purpose through a series of challenges devised by his late grandfather as a test to see whether he's worthy of inheriting a lofty fortune.  Red Stevens built a life on hard work and good decisions, but failed to find a way to teach his children and grandchildren the same joy of work.  Upon his death, his $1 billion fortune falls into the possible hands of grandson, Jason Stevens, a wandering party man whom Red believes to have the only potential to break free.  Red leads Jason-through his attorney Theodore Hastings, a previously recorded video and rigid instructions-on a quest to find that potential through a series of gifts.  Each gift is a lesson learned by a particular task, such as working manually on a farm, going without all assets, and giving to someone in need.  If successfully completed, all of these gifts allow the inheritance of all that the Grandfather had- "the ultimate gift."  (Sounds a little like the God's plan for us, doesn't it?)  The great twist is that the whole time Jason is toiling through, and gaining character as he went along, he didn't know what the ultimate inheritance would be.  A movie was made from the book, but it left out most of the gifts and their stories, and focused too heavily on a relationship developed with a young girl.  This is an easy read and one that invokes reflection on what really matters and the pure joy that we are all trying to achieve.

Side note: The author deals with the challenge of blindness, was honored as the 2000 International Humanitarian of the Year, and has developed The Ultimate Gift Institute, which gives people the opportunity to experience these 13 steps for themselves.

The 13 gifts with their themes: 

1. "He who loves his work never labors."
2. "Money is nothing more than a tool.  It can be a force for good, a force for evil, or simply be idle."
3. "It is a wealthy person, indeed, who calculates riches not in gold but in friends."
4. "Education is a lifelong journey whose destination expands as you travel."
5. "Problems can only be avoided by excercising good judgement.  Good judgement can only be gained by experiencing life's problems."
6. "Some people are born into wonderful families.  Others have to find or create them.  Being a member of a family is a priceless privilege which costs nothing but love."
7. "Laughter is good medicine for the soul.  Our world is desperately in need of more such medicine."
8. "Faith is all that dreamers need to see into the future."
9. "The only way you can truly get more out of life for yourself is to give part of yourself away."
10. "In those times when we yearn to have more in our lives, we should dwell on the things we already have.  In doing so, we will often find that our lives are already full to overflowing." (gratitude)
11. "Life at its essence boils down to one day at a time.  Today is the day!"
12. "Love is a treasure for which we can never pay.  The only way we keep it is to give it away."
13. "In the end, life lived to its fullest is its own ultimate gift."

Get it here.