When Did Noah Build the Ark (And The Benefits of Sacrifice)

“When did Noah build the ark? Before the rain.”
– Robert Redford in SpyGames.

1. The Benefits of Sacrifice

Sacrifice is a 9 letter word that has a negative connotation. People hear sacrifice and they cringe. But there have been very few people who have succeeded without sacrificing.

So lets turn sacrifice’s negative connotation upside down on its head and come up with a positive definition.

“Sacrifice = giving up a thing of less value to gain a thing of higher value.” – Paul Lemberg

Most people are unwilling to sacrifice. They don’t want to pay in advance. They don’t want to move out of their comfort zones and take risks.

But to succeed, you’ve got to sacrifice and put in the work “before” it is needed. You’ve got to dig the well before you get thirsty.

2. Cows vs Humans

Man Sitting on a Cow

Did you know that calves (baby cows) start walking within 2-4 hours of their birth?

Most people are surprised to learn that cows start walking so soon after birth while humans take 8-9-10 months to start walking after birth!

Humans are the only mammals that remain at the mercy of others for such a long time after birth.

But how can that be if we humans are the smartest mammals in the world?

The Human Sacrifice for Smartness

Because our cerebrums are bigger, we have to be pushed out and given birth “before” we have fully grown and can protect ourselves.

But because of these same bigger cerebrums, we humans grow on to be smarter than any other animal.

We gave up early protection for future progress!

3. The Marshmallow Experiment

Melted marshmallows on spoons

In 1960, Walter Mischel of Stanford University conducts a long term behavioral experiment on pre-school kids. He brings the kids one by one in a boring little plain room and gives them a choice:

“You can have this marshmallow right now. But if you wait while I run an errand, you can have two marshmallows when I get back.” And then Walter leaves the room for 20 minutes.

Do you know how tormenting it is for energy filled kids to sit in a dull room with nothing to do but a marshmallow in sight? Some kids grab the marshmallow as soon as Walter is out of the room. Some last for a few minutes before giving in to boredom and temptation. But a few kids are determined to wait it out. They cover their eyes. They sing to themselves. They play with their imaginary friends. Some even try to fall asleep.

When Walter comes back in, he dutifully gives 2 marshmallows to these kids. But the experiment doesn’t end there. Walter then waits patiently till these kids hit high school. And he then goes back to continue his experiment.

He surveys the children’s parents and teachers. And finds that the four-year-olds who had the fortitude to hold out for the second marshmallow grew up to be better adjusted, more popular, confident and dependable teenagers. On the other hand, the kids who had given in to temptation were more likely to be lonely, irritable, shied away from challenges and easily buckled under stress.

When the students in the two groups took the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the kids who didn’t go for instant gratification scored an average of 210 points higher too!

Kids who gave up instant gratification did better in the future!

4. Leveraging a Well


Ram & Shyam are two entrepreneurs both living in a town where the nearest well is 10 miles away.

Ram sees an opportunity. And charges people to get their water for them. He starts earning money from day 1.

Shyam sees an opportunity too. But he doesn’t do what Ram does. And doesn’t spend time going back and forth everyday. Instead, he sacrifices money that can be earned today to build a pipeline. When the pipeline is built, Ram is out of business.

Action Summary:

  • Don’t go for instant gratification. Give up things of little value today to achieve your big goals tomorrow.
  • Surefire way to become successful is to pay in advance.
  • Think pipeline. Create systems.


Cows may not be as smart as us humans. But did you know that they have a sixth sense that we lack? Yes its true. Cows can predict when its going to rain. They do this by detecting falling atmospheric pressure (falling pressure affects their digestive system). Before rain storms, they will start finding safe shelters.

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