Fables for Leaders includes 100+ short stories of talking animals and trees…. and my ruminations on each. I emphasize the philosophical and ethical aspects in these stories – from across the centuries - to my own on-the-job experiences, - successes and failures - and relate them to our contemporary behavior and decision-making. We relate to stories, we remember stories, and these fable stories may help in thinking through and solving, in untraditional ways, problems on the job.” Whimsical illustrations by international artist and paper cutter, Béatrice Coron, capture the charm of this ancient literature and add to its comprehension and enjoyment. Each entry -in 7 chapters- sets forth the original fable followed by Lubans’ commentary. And, many fable feature a “My Thoughts” space to explore how this fable relates to the reader. The seven chapter heads: “Us and them” “Office politics” “The Organization” “Problems” “Budgeting and strategic planning” “The effective follower” “The effective leader”. Topical sub-heads include: “Perspective makes a difference” “Where is the cooperation?” “Hiring decisions” “Performance appraisal” “Pretenders” “Kindness, loyalty and respect for the boss…or not” “Have you heard of the Tall Poppy?” “Gossip and envy” “Are you leading or am I following?” Etc.



Krylov’s THE FARMER'S HORSE AND HIS DOG*

Posted by jlubans on April 03, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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A DOG and a Horse, who both belonged to the same farmer, began, one day, to dispute as to which had given the more valuable services.
"You have done nothing to boast of!" said the Dog, "I shouldn't be surprised to see you driven off the farm altogether!
A noble career, indeed, to slave all day dragging a plough or a cart.
Yet I never heard of your doing anything finer!
How can you possibly think yourself my equal?
I never rest day or night.
All day long I watch the cattle in the meadow; and throughout the night I guard the house."
“I don't deny it," replied the Horse, "All that you say is quite true. Only, please remember that if it were not for my ploughing there would be nothing at all for you to guard."

________________
And so it can be at work when one group disparages the work of others. In my career, this was a consistent, seemingly inevitable, behavior, one that led to infighting, debilitating resentment and wasted effort.
Instead of innovation we battled against change efforts, unwilling to cede any “turf”.
Instead of productivity we spent time gossiping about how one group’s work was less important than another’s.
Instead of presenting a “whole-organization” face to the outside world, we curried favor among clients at the detriment of others.
Has crisis led to some resolution, to a more holistic view? I don't know. It’s been a long time since I left the profession..
As a leader I could have been less like Krylov’s dog. Indeed, I should have been more like this fable's horse and recognized how all of us had an important role and were reliant on each other.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869.

© Copyright John Lubans 2020

The Artful Skiver

Posted by jlubans on March 31, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: How to be at work when not there./b>

Skive, in British slang, began as a term for skipping school, playing hooky.
A noun and a verb, it now applies to filching time, from family or the boss at work, for personal use.
It’s a form of theft justified by the claim that it is earned and deserved.
Skiving ranges from taking sick leave for a home improvement project to holding down an esoteric full time job. We all know skivers (slackers) but few of us can make a full time job of it.
But, I had a few workers like that. One was in charge of keeping track of numbers for reporting out to other agencies, probably at most a few hours a week job. Somehow he’d managed to make it into a full time job!
While this worker was not a direct report, I still feel foolish about letting that happen!
At least one skiving study shows it is “borrowing” paid time for personal use ranging from online shopping to viewing salacious web sites.
The study">psychologist Tessa West, writing in the WSJ,
explains: “The average person spends 1.5 to three hours a day at work on “private activities” (70% of U.S. internet traffic passing through porn sites is done during working hours, and 60% of all online purchases are made during working hours.)”
While some of us may “tsk, tsk” about this and notch it up to the untrustworthiness of mankind, there may far more unsettling reasons for this behavior.
One is that organizations (and families) expect too much of its workers: the company may profess a desire for balance between life and work, but all the signals point to work comes first, personal time is second and best not taken.
Another reason is that many organizations claim to be democratic but in practice are hierarchies with top down decision making.
Theory X thinking rules the roost: if the worker is unsupervised he will take advantage of the organization; coercion is what makes people work.
You can sugar coat it, but many workplace bosses do not trust workers and give them little latitude for thinking, scheduling and working. Our workplaces are largely systems of masters and servants.
So, just like in ancient times, the clever slave tricks the slave owner. Indeed, there’s a literary genre around the cunning slave (e.g. Aesop) or servant (e.g. Jeeves) getting the upper hand on the feckless master.
And so it can be with the supervisor and the skiver.
One HR representative offered clues for spotting skivers at work – this is HR as truant officer.
There are several clues: one is the jacket on the chair (illustrated). The skiver leaves it to suggest he or she is at work but has stepped away for a moment and will be back soon. Well it may be two or three hours.
Another, looking-busy technique is to walk around with a piece of paper in hand.
That suggests a mission to clarify a memo, or to answer some important question.
In reality, the skiver is headed out the door for a latte and a bit of a rest on a park bench.
So, is it always going to be this way at work?
It needn’t be. We know from a simple experiment with boys clubs back in the 50s, that people work best under a democratic style of leadership.
That means the boss trusting and collaborating with workers. This results in high production and acceptance of responsibility by workers. Most importantly, when the boss leaves, the workers continue to work and produce.
Under the traditional HR autocratic model (close supervision and little trust in the worker) production can be goosed into high gear but once the boss leaves the goofing off begins, including bullying.
There are two options:
Leave things as they are and assume that skiving is a “cost” to the modern organization and trying to stop it will result in even lower morale and a further drop in production.
Or, we recognize that the workplace needs improvement:
Democratize the workplace (what this Leading from the Middle blog and book
Leading from the Middle.
are about).
Make work meaningful.
Give people freedom to make work related decisions.
Give people reason to believe their job has a future.
Work towards mutual support and respect.
And, leaders should model and encourage achieving a balance between the personal and the professional, not the latter ever ascendant.
My daughter is an Oregon State Trooper – a dangerous, stressful profession with a reputation for burn out.
She told me how impressed she was by the agency leadership’s repeated emphasis on work-life balance at the training academy. At the graduation ceremony, the commander spoke of the crucial need for family time at length in front of the many proud families in attendance.
Not only was it stressed in theory, once she got to her assigned station at the State Capitol, it is practiced.

© Copyright John Lubans 2020

Encore Friday Fable. Aesop’s “ZEUS AND THE DONKEYS”*

Posted by jlubans on March 27, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption. Patti Smith. Album: Radio Ethiopia. 1976

“The donkeys were tired of being burdened with burdens and labouring all the days of their lives, so they sent ambassadors to Zeus, asking him to release them from their toil. Zeus, wanting to show them that they had asked for something impossible, said that their suffering would come to an end on the day when they pissed a river. The donkeys took him seriously and to this day whenever donkeys see where another donkey has pissed, they come to a halt and piss in the same place.”

“The fable shows that a person cannot escape his allotted fate.”

___________________________
It was back in 2016 when I first wrote about this fable. Here it is again with a new illustration and a few revisions:
Like the bare-arse’d Ape in this same collection of fables for children**, imagine the giggles emanating from the nurseries of the early 1900s as the little ones read of the pissing donkeys.
But, this fable claims man’s lot is forecast; there’s no questioning one’s place or destiny. To do so is the “uttermost degree of Madness and Folly, to Appeal from Providence and Nature” as Sir Roger L'Estrange put it in 1692. A century later came the American Revolution which posited a different fate for humans: We are equal and we have "unalienable rights" to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
If a peasant wants to be a landowner, the opportunity is there. It is not given, but it can be earned.
If the dealt hand is not what you want, well, shuffle the cards again. And, it is your business – government butt out - in how you keep or not your Faith.
Imperfect? Yes. A superior alternative? Show me.
Since Aesop’s telling of the fable of the Pissing Donkeys (a garage rock band?) he may have inspired a few more writers. There’s Wretched Willie Nelson’s, “Whiskey River” (don’t run dry), Patti Smith’s hard rock “Pissing in the River” and not to be outdone, Julie London’s smoky “Cry Me a River”.

*Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.

**Everyman’s Library Children’s Classics.

© Copyright John Lubans 2016 & 2020

Fritz’s

Posted by jlubans on March 25, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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A BBC report, “How to leave a family business
brought to mind a story I’ve long thought about writing.
Before we go there, a little bit of personal perspective.
My father ran a small construction company; it was very much his company - his reputation for quality work and absolute honesty were integral to the success of the company.
I worked for him several summers and we mutually, if tacitly, concluded this was not the business for me.
While I could swing a hammer with the best and I could shovel more dirt and gravel than most, when it came to the finer points, like measuring angles and running a straight line of shingles or bricks, I lacked the aptitude.
Also, I did like my sleep and just could not emulate my dad’s 5AM rising, at least – interestingly - not for this calling.
I valued the opportunity to work with him especially since it finally sank into my hard head that this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I would need to go to college.
My point is that I never had to leave a family business!
That said, I have studied numerous organizations from orchestras to restaurants, several of which are written about in my book, Leading from the Middle.
The BBC report suggests leaving a family business is a fraught step.
I saw this up close and personal at a business I often visited as a customer and eventually as a researcher.
Over time, I befriended the boss, Fritz by name and he gave me carte blanche to study his organization. (Note: I have changed names since I do not wish in any way to sensationalize what I observed. I remain fond of this business and of the many people I met, including Fritz.)
The BBC report identifies common problems and sources of failure in family businesses: communication style, future vision and strategy, and balancing the needs of the family versus the needs of the business.
And, per the BBC, if you are the heir-apparent, 21.8% said communication style was the leading cause of conflict. As for the family boss, just 13.3% listed communication as the leading cause of dissent.
Now, Fritz’s is a very successful retail operation in a large city. Fritz, the owner, works very long hours and pretty much micromanages the business.
He runs it like a big family with him as the idiosyncratic patriarch with a large flock of children, some of whom he regards as “primitives” (his term).
An example of Fritz’s leadership style: An employee pushed another employee down some rickety stairs. Instead of dismissal for assault, Fritz told the two to shake hands and make up.
Another example: When a floor manager got fed up with Fritz’s butting in, he told Fritz to back off and to let him do his job. Fritz fired him on the spot.
An hour later, Fritz was on the phone with the employee apologizing and asking him to return to the business. He did, only to have this repeated every year or so.
Indeed, some department heads soon learned not to take any bluster from Fritz. Instead, they’d walk out. Invariably, he’d plead with them to return.
At Fritz’s there was one genuine heir-apparent, a daughter. Let’s call her Diane.
When I interviewed her – a calm, intelligent and confident young woman - she thought her dad could share more information with her – she worried that he knew so much that would be lost were he unable to work.
The implication was that he was holding back the real inside scoop on the business and was essentially unwilling to trust her fully.
Treated like a junior partner, she had little decision-making authority, if any.
Still, she was expected to work long hours (this is retail, remember).
She had recently married a wealthy man and they were expecting a first child.
And, there was a mother (Fritz’s wife) behind the scenes. A soap-opera-ish personality from whom – I concluded - Diane would be desperate for some separation, in space and time.
While I never interviewed the mother I did have several social visits with her and Fritz, some of which gave me insights into her mercurial personality.
I spoke to Fritz about what Diane had told me, about her wanting a real role in the business. He may have heard what I said but, as far as I could tell, he did little to improve Diane's role.
About a year or two later, I was back in town and went by to see Fritz in his office.
Heart broken and literally in tears, he told me that Diane had resigned and was moving into the suburbs.
Not long after Fritz stopped taking my calls. It’s now been years since I last saw him.
I suspect he – possibly encouraged by his wife - thought I was somehow responsible for the estrangement between him and his daughter; that I had helped, by asking questions, Diane articulate her discontent.
In any case, I imagine Diane had a hard time making the decision to let go.
Could this separation have been avoided? Would Diane (and her new family) stay on had Fritz been willing to treat her as a full and responsible partner?
Probably yes, but hard to know.

© Copyright John Lubans 2020

Friday Fable. Phaedrus’ THE EVILS OF WEALTH*

Posted by jlubans on March 20, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Plutus (with cornucopia) and his mother Demeter, C4th B.C..

Riches are deservedly despised by a man of worth because a well-stored chest intercepts praise from its true objects.

When Hercules was received into heaven as the reward of his virtues, and saluted in turn the Gods who were congratulating him, on Plutus approaching, who is the child of Fortune, he turned away his eyes.
His father, Jupiter, enquired the reason:
“I hate him,” says he, “because he is the friend of the wicked, and at the same time corrupts all by presenting the temptation of gain.
__________
Hercules, a
lways more brawn than brains, has made a faulty assumption.
He claims poor Plutus (the blind god of Fortune) intentionally lets good things (fortune) happen to bad people and bad things (misfortune) to happen to good people.
The truth according to Plutus, spoken through the playwright Aristophanes is: “Zeus (or Jupiter) inflicted (blindness) on me, because of his jealousy of-mankind. When I was young, I threatened him that I would only go to the just, the wise, the men of ordered life; to prevent my distinguishing these, he struck me with blindness' so much does he envy the good!”
Zeus comes off as petty and jealous. Especially of the good follower who does good and thinks for himself/herself.
Do you know any Jovian leaders like that?
Given his druthers, Plutus would prefer to shun the wicked and to visit the good.
Likewise, the Herculean certainty on Facebook is probably more akin to Zeus’ envy of good than to giving a guy a break.

*Source: THE COMEDIES OF TERENCE AND THE FABLES OF PHÆDRUS.TRANSLATED By HENRY THOMAS RILEY, B.A.
TO WHICH IS ADDED A METRICAL TRANSLATION OF PHÆDRUS,
By CHRISTOPHER SMART.
LONDON: GEORGE BELL & SONS, 1887.

© Copyright John Lubans 2020

Toddlers will, chimps won’t.

Posted by jlubans on March 16, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: A toddler returns a blueberry to researcher Barragan.

Susan Pinker writes in the WSJ – “Babies Can Be More Altruistic Than Adults” - about a study showing our human tendencies to help, to cooperate, and to come to the aid of others.
When beseeched to retrieve and return a stranger’s dropped fruit 60% of the 96 toddlers did so. When hungry, 38% gave back the fruit.
In the control group with the stranger behaving indifferently to the dropped fruit, only 4% retrieved and returned the fruit.
In the greater animal kingdom, altruism sets human beings apart. The study’s authors say, “the knack for reading others’ needs and being motivated to help fulfill them is a distinctly human trait. Chimpanzees don’t give up food to a stranger.”
So, what has altruism to do with the workplace?
Well, consider the 40% of the toddlers who did not share. Is this an early indicator of jerkitude?
Jerks, as one definition has it, are “ignorant of the value of others, ignorant of the merit of their ideas and plans, dismissive of their desires and beliefs, (and) unforgiving of their perceived inferiority.”
Perhaps jerkiness in adulthood is too much to derive from a child’s gobbling down a stranger’s dropped piece of fruit. The 40% might have simply been hungry and opportunistic.
What chance is there that this “me, first!” attitude will change over time?
Indeed, how does one become more of a “social” being? That’s one of the study’s conclusions: “If we can discover how to promote altruism in our kids, this could move us toward a more caring society.”
In a way, this research offers something for both sides of the "nature or nurture" debate. Generally, people have some measure of an innate tendency to help others; this tendency can be either diminished or enhanced depending on one's life experience.
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Caption: Canadian shoppers stock up - and then some! - for the epidemic.

“The Mover” (2018) is a film depicting the heroic and complex actions of Žanis Lipke, a blue-collar worker. Lipke is famous for saving some 50 or more Jews from Nazi persecution/murder in Riga, Latvia.
In an early scene, shortly after the German military has re-occupied Latvia, a Latvian butcher refuses to sell meat to a Jew.
Lipke’s wife observes this and admonishes the butcher to sell the man the meat – he is a human being providing for his family’s needs. The butcher still refuses – he does not want to be seen as a Jew-sympathizer.
She then thrusts her package of meat into the Jew’s hands, a noble act done at great risk.
How many of us would do the same?
OK. Reduce the risk level to a mere inconvenience, how many of us would help a stranger?
In the workplace, it is not much different. When we see someone being vilified in an organization do we offer a helping hand or turn away, further ostracizing a former colleague?
The researchers in this study found that an infant’s siblings and cultural background “could account for some of the variance in the infants’ tendency to help strangers.”
If children’s altruistic behavior is indeed malleable then perhaps the actions of leaders and followers can influence an organization toward altruism and awareness of interdependence and away from overly selfish behaviors.

© Copyright John Lubans 2020

Aesop THE OWL AND THE GRASSHOPPER*

Posted by jlubans on February 26, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Illustration by Charles Livingston Bull, 1915

An Owl, who was sitting in a hollow tree, dozing away a long summer afternoon, was much disturbed by a rogue of a Grasshopper, singing in the grass below.
So far from moving away at the request of the Owl, or keeping quiet, the Grasshopper sang all the more, saying that honest people got their sleep at night.
The Owl waited in silence for a while, and then artfully addressed the Grasshopper thus: "I suppose I ought to be angry with you, my dear, for I confess I would rather sleep than listen to your singing.
But if one cannot be allowed to sleep, it is something to be kept awake by such a pleasant little pipe as yours.
And now it occurs to me that I have some delicious nectar with which to reward a musician who sings so sweetly.
If you will take the trouble to come up, you shall have a drop. It will clear your voice nicely."
The silly Grasshopper came hopping up to the Owl, who at once caught and killed him, and so finished her nap in comfort.

_____________
C. L. Bull’s beguiling illustration caught my eye and prompted me to reprise this fable. My first version dates back to April of 2014.
Stickney’s adaptation of this story is faithful to earlier editions. But, he adds a new twist; an implied insult from the singer that honest people get their sleep only at night.
Sometimes annoying someone bigger than yourself may end in your destruction.
The Owl out-foxes the sad sack grasshopper and gains an afternoon snack.

*Source: Aesop's Fables by Jenny H. Stickeny, illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull, published in 1915.


)

Caxton’s Of the Bee and of Iupiter

Posted by jlubans on February 13, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption:Only $20 per bottle.from the Fableist Wine Co.

Now the euyl which men wysshe to other /
cometh to hym whiche wyssheth hit /
as hit appiereth by this fable /
of a Bee whiche offred and gaf to Iupyter a pyece of hony / wherof Iupyter was moche Ioyous /
And thenne Iupyter sayd to the bee /
demaunde of me what thow wylt /
and I shalle graunte and gyue hit to the gladly /
And thenne the Bee prayd hym in this manere /
God almyghty I pray the that thow wylt gyue to me and graunte /
that who so euer shal come for to take awey my hony /
yf I pryke hym /
he may sondenly deye /
And by cause that Iupyter loued the humayn lygnage he sayd to the Bee /
Suffyse the /
that who so euer shalle goo to take thy hony /
yf thow pryke or stynge hym /
Incontynent thow shalt deye /
And thus her prayer was tourned to her grete dommage /
For men ought not to demaunde of god /
but suche thynges that ben good and honest

_____________
I wrote about a "different version of this fable in 2013 but the moral was similar: “Evil wishes, like fowls, come home to roost.”
Yet, the bee remains as mankind’s “greatest friend” among the insects. Bees gives us not only honey (and all of its curative properties) they pollinate our fruits and vegetables. If a bee is cranky, leave it be.
Give it some space, don’t crowd it. If she lands on you, let her explore. She will only buzz a bit and then be off.
She may fly back to the hive and do her waggle dance, advising other bees not to bother with you; you are neither sweet nor suitable for a swarm.
As for this fable’s point, pray, if you must, for what is good and honest not something to injure others. Still true to this day.

* Source: The fables of Aesop, as first printed by William Caxton in 1484, with those of Avian, Alfonso and Poggio, now again edited and induced by Joseph Jacobs
by Aesop; Caxton, William, ca. 1422-1491; Jacobs, Joseph, 1854-1916


“You Know Your Leadership!”

Posted by jlubans on February 02, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: “You know your history.”

Our Cretan guide, it appeared had had a few too many pints, the night before, of the villainous national wine, retsina.
When explaining an archeological site in the fiercely bright Aegean sun, I’d see her wince and then take a short cut with “Oh well, you know your history” and hurry us along to the next site only to get another truncated history lesson.
It’s how I feel at times when I try to explain what I teach in my class, Leadership and Literature. If I am not misinterpreting, the listener’s eyes glaze over all too quickly as I delve into how I entwine the two notions and theories.
Sensing this, I cut it short with “Well, you know your leadership.”
Yes, you do.
We all hold some ideas – however loose and paradoxical – about leadership. Hundreds of books come out each year trying to define and proselytize a particular theory.
There’s the weighty tome used at one of the service academies re what great thinkers have to say about the topic. I crack it open now and then and marvel at the variety and the multiple definitions. Indeed, it is another doorstopper Norton anthology just like the ones I had to buy and scan in literature classes.
Frankly, the definite book on leadership has yet to be written. Yet, like pornography, we all know it when we see it. Or, maybe better, we know when it is absent, when it fails, when it goes AWOL. Isn’t organizational failure almost always attributed to poor leadership?
There are formulas, there are lists. There are even unlists, e.g. mine for the unboss..
Then there’s ye olde POSDCORB, aka L. Gulick’s “Functions of the Executive”.
Planning
Organizing
Staffing
Directing
Co-coordinating
Reporting
Budgeting

POSDCORB, the predominant model of what passes as leadership in 95% of our organizations neither implies nor intends any leadership. Rather, it is a preternaturally careful and cautious way of running a business. While the organization's strategic plan may espouse a "disruptive" or transformational leadership, in reality such activity is despised and repelled - it is why "Change is hard."
Some time ago a trio of authors in my profession enumerated leaderly characteristics, at least 150 of them! The checklist reminded me of the requirement for a Boy/Girl Scout Merit badge.
Brief or lengthy, at best we only have a slippery grasp of any handle on the topic.
One theory works well in one place and fails in another. For example, there were a variety of leaders at California’s now near bankrupt energy company, PGE. Much of the blame for the recent plague of forest fires has been fixed on PGE failures. The PGE leaders ranged from the authoritarian to the collaborative yet failed to stop the disasters. The leaders probably would argue they were never allowed to lead, always interfered with by outside forces, like politicians and other vested interests that sought to control PGE budgets.
We do know something: without followers there is no leadership. Jalen Hurts, a young athlete, said most insightfully, “People let you lead.” If you have it to go with followers respond.
These overheated political times have come up with a bizarre pairing.
The WSJ article, “The People We Admire Most: Obamas and Trumps” declares that Barack Obama and Donald Trump are tied this year as Gallup’s most admired man. It makes clear that leadership is personal, individual; not everyone will agree; indeed leadership is in the eye of the beholder.
Some of our allegiance to a leader is whether we like or not like that person. Clearly the Gallup Poll’s outcome shows how people can hold one leader in esteem and another in contempt: yet, overall, it’s a split vote.
The split suggests just how difficult it is to define leadership. It is unlikely that the two presidents share the same admirable qualities. Perhaps one might say those qualities are miles apart or are interpreted along a continuum rather than as an on or off switch.
Because of this complexity and the lack of any definitive law of leadership, my class makes use of literary and other artistic interpretations of leaders, followers and leadership. While I do allude to the various theories, literary insights help explain the seemingly ineffable.

_______________
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© Copyright John Lubans 2020

Krylov’s THE TWO FLIES AND THE BEE*

Posted by jlubans on February 01, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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TWO Flies, determining to change
their country, and abroad to range,
In order novel sights to see.
Explained their project to a Bee.
⁠To her they stated
Their friend. Sir Parrot, had related
Of foreign parts such wondrous things.
They were resolved to use their wings.
There surely was no great temptation
Longer to stay in this dull nation,
Where everything was cold and dingy.
And folks grew every day more stingy!
"They grudge us e'en the smallest sup;
From us poor Flies they cover up
Both meat and drink; and fence, alas!
Their fruits of every kind with glass.
So are we treated by the wealthy.
⁠And 'mongst the poor fare scarcely better.
Since Spiders there, our foes so stealthy,
⁠Weave treacherous webs, our wings to fetter."
"Well, friends," the home-spun Bee replied,
"'Tis not for
me your scheme to chide,
If you on travelling are bent.
For my part, I am quite content
Here to remain. Folks praise my Honey;
And though it is not always sunny
In this our clime, here is our hive;
And we to earn our food contrive—
Nay, all considered, really thrive.
We have our labours to attend to,
And know that those we ought to bend to;
While folk like you go where you list
And certainly will not be missed.
It matters not where you're abiders,—
None profit by you, save the Spiders."
__________
The bee’s straight talk to make the most of it, if heeded, might result in the flies staying put. Their deal in life is not all that bad but for spiders and rolled up newspapers.
Then again, they may tell the bee to buzz off, they want to see for themselves – make their own mistakes - just how green the grass is on the other side.
Are there not people who will give you bad advice because they are jealous of your opportunity?
Maybe the flies will luck out and pick a happier environment, say a city landfill, in which to gorge to bursting but no dainty webs their “wings to fetter”.
An eternal question what might have been had I made a different decision? What might have been.
You know, the road not taken.
Worse is to live an unquestioned life, accepting what we’re handed and not making our own way. Go along to get along.
In my dotage, it feels like the more a person decides what he or she will do the better the outcome, yea or nay.
There are life decisions best taken not imposed or entrapped.

*Source: Krilov, Fables. Translated from the Russian for Fraser's Magazine In Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.)
__________

*HALF OFF* Leap Year Sale. Get a 50% discount by ordering through Book Baby at this link.

© Copyright John Lubans 2020