Rabbi Zusha was passing through a new town when it grew dark. Those were the good ol’ days when people didn’t have to call and text and what not before seeing someone. So, he knocked on a door hoping to spend the night there. A somewhat unkempt man opened the door, heard the rabbi out, took a good look at him, and said, “You are a holy man so I can’t turn down your request but I must tell you in advance that I’m not an honorable man. Staying overnight here might bring you disrepute.”
Zusha, however, ignored the man’s warning and stayed not just one night but seven. He figured out very quickly that the man was a thief but he treated the rabbi kindly. So much so that when Zusha was leaving, he thanked the man profusely and blessed him abundantly. “I’ve learned a great deal from you,” the rabbi said to him.
“A rabbi learning from a crook like me?” The man exclaimed. “This inspires me to mend my ways and earn an honest living.”
Rabbi Zusha, when questioned by his pupils later, summed up the lessons he learned from the thief in seven points:
1. What he did, he kept to himself.
2. He was willing to take risks to attain his goal.
3. He did not discriminate between important and unimportant or major and minor things but took equally exacting care of each and every detail.
4. He invested great effort in his vocation.
5. He was swift.
6. He was always optimistic.
7. No matter how many times he failed, he tried-tried again.
Whatever it is that you do, do as if your life depends on it. Why settle for anything less than excellence when you have enough talent and tenacity to aim for it?