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Look in the mirror.

Emanuel Ninger was a respectable member of his New Jersey community but in 1887 that all changed.

He walked into a grocery store, like he had a done countless time before, and examines the fresh produce carefully.  He picked out some fruit and vegetables, and proceeded to the counter to pay for them.  He handed the young woman serving him a $20 bill.  She gave him change.  He left.

There was nothing particularly unusual about the day, except that while putting the money in the cash register, the young woman behind the counter noticed that her fingers were dirty.  Upon further inspection, she realized that the stain was caused by ink and she began to wonder where it came from.  She finally reached the very unlikely conclusion that it came from the $20 bill Emanuel Ninger gave her. 

She knew Mr. Ninger very well, because he had shopped there for years.  He was polite and an abundantly proper gentleman.  But despite what she believed, she decided to call the police to investigate this matter anyway.  If it wasn’t Mr. Ninger, there was certainly someone who was carefully stealing from the community.

The police officers also didn’t think it was probably that Emanuel Ninger was responsible for the counterfeit note.  However, bound by their duty to the law, they visited Mr. Ninger at his home, to disqualify him from any further investigation.  While they were there however, they discovered an entire counterfeiting operation in the attic of his house.  They discovered several unfinished notes, in various stages of completion, and it was clear that they indeed nabbed their thief.

Emanuel Ninger pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a short prison term for his crime. 

Not only was he an excellent forger, but it turned out that he was also a fabulous painter. 

He had counterfeited several bank notes of various denominations, on more than one occasion, and in an effort to recover some of the money, a decision was made to sell some of his art in an auction. 

Surprisingly, three of his painting sold for approximately $16,000.

I borrowed this story from Mr. Zig Ziglar and his audio series ‘Born to Win’, which is currently keeping me company on my daily commute.

What is so amazing about this story is the fact that Mr. Emanuel Ninger spent as much of his time creating a fake, insignificant, $20 note, as much as he did on a painting real art that turned out to be worth over $5000.

Quite the contrast, isn’t it?

If we are honest with ourselves, we realize we have a lot of Emanuel Ninger in ourselves.

We are a thief in the mirror.

How often do we spend time on fruitless gossip and useless directionless arguments?  How long have we lived believing and doing work we don’t like or value?  How often do we hide our talents or are afraid to share them with anyone?

We often trade a $20 bill, for a life we want and are meant to live.

Let’s help each other to be accountable.  Let’s help each other emerge happy, from our servitude to our pessimistic thoughts.

It is time to stop stealing from ourselves.