A parable is a story often employed in biblical texts and is used to illustrate a moral lesson. One that struck me recently is about three talents, which I have adapted into a scenario below.

Imagine a business owner who calls in three managers, all of whom are all at different levels. He presents the first manager with R5 million, the second with R3 million and the third with R1 million, telling them that he’s taking a break from the business and will be back in a year’s time. After urging them to look after the money he’s entrusted to them, he leaves. Upon his return a year later, the owner he calls the first manager in and asks, ‘What did you do with what I left in your hands?’ The first manager reports that he invested the R5 million in high-yield stocks and doubled it, to which the owner says, ‘Well done, you are worthy of your place in my business!’

The second manager reports back similarly – explaining that he invested the money and managed to make another R2 million. Again, the owner is pleased with the initiative taken and the growth yielded. The third manager, however, says to the owner, ‘I was afraid of you and that you might be angry if I did anything with the money and lost it, so I left it in a safe.’ But the owner replied, ‘You could at least have put it in a bank and earned some interest! You were just lazy.’ The owner then takes away the third manager’s million and gives it to the first manager.

To me, this story speaks of how important it is to continue to invest and grow the talents we have. The boss we work for has invested in us in many ways, and their expectation of a return on their investment in us is not misplaced – in fact, it’s perfectly warranted. They don’t want to see the same person a year later, with not even a little growth. The key take-home points for me are as follows:

  • Success comes from working hard. Don’t bury your talent in a box and leave it alone for fear of failure or any other excuse – it will not develop on its own.
  • We are not all created with equal talents. While we’re all gifted differently, but we are all accountable to grow the talents we do have to the best of our abilities – whatever level we are at.
  • Our employers understandably require a return on the investment they place in us. If we don’t take initiative to improve and grow in a reasonable amount of time, our work will eventually be given to someone who has proved that they can handle responsibility well.

I encourage you to ponder these points, and if you’re unsure – don’t just sit back! Speak to others, ask how, and be intentional. It’s important to invest in your talents, as you will be held accountable for them.


Investment in yourself needs to be intentional. For so many people, managing or nurturing their talent is accidental or incidental. Take a sports team for example – they don’t arrive for practice to have the coach say, ‘Do whatever you want and hopefully we will play well this weekend.’ No, there is a plan – a strategy followed up by training specific skills. It’s all intentional. If you want a successful career, make it a point to intentionally invest in yourself. Review yourself annually and if you haven’t grown your talent, you shouldn’t be surprised if you are not advancing your career.

Author:  Brett Tromp CA(SA) is CFO of  Discovery Health