The Little Prince – How to be a Valuable Person

The Little Prince, drawn by Saint-Exupery
One of my favorite French books is “Le Petit Prince,” by Antoine de Sainte-Exupery.  One of the best-selling books of all time, “The Little Prince” is full of wonderful life lessons worth sharing.   

The little prince embarks on a journey to discover the universe, leaving his house-sized planet, B612.  Moving from asteroid to asteroid, the little prince meets a different adult at each stop.  Each adult reveals his shortcomings in short order, providing useful insight on pitfalls that prevent the expression of nobility and uprightness, in short, of true value.   

The adults he meets are the King, the Conceited Man, the Drunkard, the Businessman, the Lamplighter and the Geographer.  The King sought to control that which was going to happen anyway.  The Conceited Man sought the approbation of his fellows, yet lived alone and could only hear compliments.  The Drunkard drinks to bury the shame of his drinking problem.  The Businessman obsessively counts the stars he thinks he owns, prompting a discourse on the nature of property with the little prince.  The Lamplighter is so busy that he cannot find rest and the Geographer spends his time mapping the world but never takes the time to see it himself.    

Do any of these ring a bell?  Perhaps you’ve worn one of these identities in your own experience or maybe you saw it in someone close to you.  Perhaps you’ve spent time in all of their shoes!?!  In any case I trust that in so doing you learned a valuable lesson worth sharing.   

One of my favorite quotes from this book, which I first read many years ago in French class, is this gem: “Ce qui embellit le désert, dit le petit prince, c’est qu’il cache un puits quelque part…” (“What makes the desert beautiful,” says the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well.”).  A common thread in all of the adults encountered by the little prince is this: a refusal to see the true value in what is present with them.     

The King fails to appreciate the varied capabilities of his subjects, the Conceited Man was unable to esteem his fellows, the Drunkard could not come to terms with his own significance, the Businessman underestimated the importance of caring for that which he had, the Lamplighter lost sight of the value of balance and rest and the Geographer lost touch with the thrill of a life well-lived, choosing instead to be a spectator.  To be sure, narrow-mindedness and incomplete character development plague far too many adults.   

Think about these points today, but do not dwell on them, as their converse unlocks the joy and wonderment of a noteworthy and memorable life.  Be deliberate about appreciating the capabilities of those around you, have pride in your fellows, embrace and share your own value, care for that which you are borrowing from those who follow you in the future, take time to smell the roses, breath out and dare to engage with life…with vigor, creativity and gusto!   

Have a great day.  I encourage you to seek out, positively identify and give stage to the “wells” in your world.  What do you have to lose?

15 thoughts on “The Little Prince – How to be a Valuable Person

  1. Estelle M.

    I have read “The Little Prince” (Katherine Woods translation) over the years to my children, who all still have their copies. I plan to give all my grandchildren this book as a gifts when they are a little older. I am going to print this post and stick it in my copy of the book. I really enjoyed your thoughts on it.


  2. Kimberly

    Hi Gregg,
    There are 2 English translations of this book. One by Katharine Woods in the 50’s and one by Richard Howard more recently; do you prefer either one?

    I love your blog. I read it every day. Thank you.


    1. DeeDee

      Kimberly – I think the Katharine Woods version is the best, but unfortunately it is out of print so snatch a copy up if you can find it.


  3. Teryl

    This is such nice lesson for us all to experience. My daughter and I spent about 5 minutes yesterday morning looking at the beautiful sunrise that was framed by our kitchen window. She pulled me to the window with wide eyes saying,”look how beautiful Mommie”. It was such a sweet time for us both standing together quitely appreciating the beauty. It would have been so easy to miss that opportunity by being inthe normal morning rush to get ready for school. That moment colored the entire day with a sense of joy and set up each experience afterward in a positive light. It is infectious and others respond to our sense of wonder and if you watch them they begin to smile even when there is no specific reason to do so.


  4. Lara

    Thank you for sharing this story! Your Blog has really opened my eyes to this wonderful world right around me. My life has been quite a whirlwind, always rushing off to the next experience. I am so grateful to recognize before it’s too late that life is what is happening now. There are more depths to my experience than what I have allowed. My curiosity has kicked in and my race to the finish has slowed to enjoy more moments. Thank you soooo much!


  5. Brenda Ruppright

    What a wonderful beginning to the day, these reminders to not just live but to be aware of the life we are living, to enjoy the moments that carry so much value if only we are aware of the lessons, the joy, the meaning in every moment. I look forward to realxing in the day and to allow the joy and wonderment to reveal itself!


  6. DeeDee

    I found this to be one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read! Mark and I have all of his books and were just speaking of them with your post on piloting yesterday. His writing touches the hearts of those who yearn to experience a meaningful and creative life, and your points this morning are excellent in the same inspiring way. Thank you!


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