Every single one of us loves reading short stories about value and self-worth because they’re some of the most important life lessons that we can learn.
But of all the stories about value and self-worth, there’s one that stands out the most. Some parents keep this tale in rotation alongside other bedtime stories. And there are teachers that make it a point to tell this story to students because of the moral values that it imparts to children.
This is a story about a dad and his watch.
The Old Man and The Watch
Different versions of this story exist. But while some of the details aren’t the same, they all impart the same valuable lessons.
It goes something like this:
There was an old, wise man who grew sicker by the day. He felt that his journey on Earth is about to come to an end. However, his son was still a young man and had yet to reach his full potential. And so the father took it upon himself to teach his son the ways of the world before death comes knocking.
One morning, the old man called for the young man and handed him a watch. The watch was a family heirloom that’s been passed down for generations. The boy has never seen it before though so he didn’t quite know what to make of it.
“What am I supposed to do with this watch, father?”, asked the boy.
“I want you to go to town and take the watch to the jeweler. Show him the watch and ask him how much it’s worth. But don’t accept any offer. Instead, come back home with the watch.”
The boy did as he was instructed. He marched into town to hear what the jeweler had to say. After the watch was appraised, the boy went back home to his father.
“So, what happened? How much money did the jeweler offer for the watch?”
His son, looking defeated, spoke while scratching his head — “I don’t know, father. I tried haggling with the jeweler but in the end, he didn’t offer much. He said it was only worth $100 because it’s so old.”
The father was nodding his head, seemingly in agreement with the jeweler’s assessment.
His son continued, “The jeweler said he was taking a gamble on buying the watch and that he’d have a hard time finding a buyer. And if I’m being honest, I kind of agree with him. I don’t think this watch is anything special.”
“Okay,” the father said. “Now take the watch to the pawnshop. See how much you can get for the watch.”
His son replied, “What do you hope to sell it for? I don’t think the pawnshop is going to make you a better offer than the jeweler.”
“Just humor me, son. Your best friend owns a pawnshop, right? Don’t you think he’ll give you a fair offer?”
In his mind, the boy disagreed. But he didn’t want to argue with his ailing father so he did the job anyway. He even went above and beyond and went to see two friends who were both working in pawnshops. However, he still went home looking defeated.
“Father, I went to a couple of friends who work in pawnshops. But they both gave me worse offers. The best I got was $20. They told me that the watch had problems. There were scratches that even I didn’t notice after carrying it with me all day.”
The father, yet again, nodded in agreement.
“So what do you want me to do? Should I go back to the jeweler? After all, he is willing to pay more money.”
“No,” said the old man. “I want you to go to the museum. There’s a woman there that I want you to talk to. I sense that this person will have a better idea of what this watch is really worth.”
His son, now starting to get annoyed by all this back-and-forth, reluctantly agreed to walk all the way to the museum to look for his father’s friend. “What is this person hoping to say about this watch that I haven’t heard already?”, he said to himself.
After talking to the museum lady, he suddenly went out the door and ran back home to tell his old man the good news. Night has finally set in by the time he got home.
“You won’t believe it! My trip was a success. We finally got an amazing offer.”
“Yeah, the lady said that this watch is one of a kind. She said she never thought she’d see one in person. She said the museum would like to buy it from us so that they can put it on display.”
The old man, with a grin on his face, asked — “So how much did she say it was worth?”
“$35,000! I haven’t realized I was holding on to something that valuable. With that much money, our family can really enjoy life. To think the jeweler and the pawnshops I visited had it so wrong. Should we sell it?”
“I’m glad for you, son.”, said his dad. “You can do what you want with that watch after I’m dead. What’s more important to me right now is that you learned something about value and self-worth.”
“What do you mean?”, asked his son.
“You see—just like that watch—you too have value. And if you go to the wrong places, you’ll never know just how much value you have. Even your own friends can get it wrong. But there’s always a place you can go to where everyone will see your real value. That’s the lesson I’m trying to teach you.”
The son was wondering about the point of doing all this. But upon hearing his father’s explanation, he had a newfound respect for the guy.
His father continued, “One day you’ll have a family of your own. You’ll have your own kids — maybe you’ll get lucky and have a daughter like you always wanted. To ensure their happiness, you’ll have to teach them the same things that I’m teaching you right now.”
The old man’s son learned a lot that night. Their family may not be rich, but that doesn’t matter. His father’s words were far more valuable than the watch he spent all day getting appraised.
Moral of the Story
Short stories about value and self-worth will always come with moral lessons. This story tells us a couple of things. Let’s discuss what we can learn about life after reading that story.
All of Us Have Value
Nobody is born without value. We all have something to contribute to the world. And nobody can tell us otherwise. Sometimes bad things happen so we feel like we’re worthless. We forget our past accomplishments.
So in trying times, we need to remind ourselves of our success stories so that we can smile again.
We Need to Find People Who Will Value Us
And we’re not just referring to friends though they are a key part of all this. If you feel like you’re not getting the appreciation you deserve at work, then you should find another job if you can afford to.
Or if you think you have more to offer the world, then you can look up nonprofit organizations that might benefit from your skillset. You’ll find a lot of tales online from volunteers who found their value in helping the less fortunate. And so can you if you’re up for some volunteer work.
Share the Importance of Knowing Your Self-Worth
This short story teaches life lessons that should be shared with others. And as the story suggests, you should tell others about the importance of knowing your self-worth.
You never know — you could inspire the next hero to come out of your community. And more importantly, you might end up saving someone’s life. Sadly, there are people who fell behind in life simply because nobody told them that they have value and that they have something to offer their community.
Tell People How Much You Value Them
You can create a better life experience for others by telling them how much you value them. You might know someone who has incredible value but never told them. Letting them know will not only boost their confidence but also get rid of any negative thoughts they might have.
It might also give them the push and the confidence that they need to tackle new projects. If you have kids, telling them how much they’re valued will help their development.
And there’s no reason to stop with your kids. You can just as easily tell your parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, friends, co-workers—basically everyone in your life—how much you value them.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
If you were anything like the boy in this story, you might have sold the watch to the jeweler who was the first person he asked.
You don’t want to think that way because you’ll be selling yourself short.
Explore all of your options. If you apply for a job, for example, don’t go for the first offer you get. Other employers might be looking for someone like you and would be happy to pay more because they see your true value.