Who Knows What is Good and What is Bad?

When an old farmer’s stallion wins a prize at a country show, his neighbor calls round to congratulate him, but the farmer says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?” The next day some thieves come and steal his valuable animal. His neighbor comes to commiserate with him, but the old man replies, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?” A few days later the spirited stallion escapes from the thieves and joins a herd of wild mares, leading them back to the farm. The neighbor calls to share the farmer’s joy, but the farmer says, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?” The following day, while trying to break in one of the wild mares, the farmer’s son is thrown and fractures his leg. The neighbor calls to share the farmer’s sorrow, but the old man’s attitude remains the same as before. The following week the army passes by, forcibly conscripting solders for a war, but they do not take the farmer’s son because he cannot walk. The neighbor thinks to himself, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?” - Excerpt from The Tao Book and Card Pack by Timothy Freke

For many years my husband Jeff and I have felt challenged to live on the monetary income we receive from his Olympic athletic endeavors. Athletes in Canada do not live richly from large corporate sponsors unless they are one of a handful in well supported and high profile sports. We have spent years trying to create buy-in for companies to support Jeff in his cause and in doing so, help our family pay for just the day to day expenses. Jeff is one of very few senior athletes in Canada that is also married with children, putting us in a category that some funds and sponsors do not like. We don’t fit the young, single and easy-to-put-a-number-on athlete of the majority and have had funding declined because of that. We used to feel sorry for ourselves and hard done by because of our financial situation. Many people shared in the sympathy and we felt quite right about how hard it was.

In today’s very uncertain economy, we have never felt so lucky to be an athlete in Canada. In offices where the lay offs are happening daily and pink slips are becoming in fashion, we are in a career where that does not happen. Jeff will not be ‘laid off’ the team, get blind-sided by a pink slip or have to clear his desk and leave the building. Our income may not be rising with inflation, nor did it a few years ago in the boom, but it is still coming in and that is great! Better yet, we have had years of advance notice as to the pink slip arrival and plenty of time to make a plan to transition. We began the one year countdown on February 19th at 8pm. Fourteen years down and now less than one to go!

So, in the years of complaining about the financial hardships of choosing to be an elite Athlete in Canada, to having a recession proof career in a tough economy, I quote the words of Timothy Freke. “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”


Aly Pain specializes in helping high-growth companies and entrepreneurs focus on creating international and sustainable relationships. The end goal of this work is to increase positivity, productivity and the bottom line, while lowering attrition, training costs and workplace stress. Aly began her career as a coach over 10 years ago, following her work as a trainer/facilitator implementing corporate change. By following the StepUp program, Aly's clients gain a "systems perspective" of their te...

Go Deeper | Website

Want More?

New Graphic
Subscriber Counter