Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE PEBBLE AND THE DIAMOND”*

Posted by jlubans on December 15, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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“A DIAMOND, which some one had lost, lay for some time on the high road.
At last it happened that a merchant picked it up.
By him it was offered to the king, who bought it, had it set in gold, and made it one of the ornaments of the royal crown.
Having heard of this, a Pebble began to make a fuss. The brilliant fate of the Diamond fascinated it; and, one day, seeing a Moujik (Russian peasant) passing, it besought him thus :
‘Do me a kindness, fellow-countryman, and take me with you to the capital.
Why should I go on suffering here in rain and mud, while our Diamond is, men say, in honour there?
I don't understand why it has been treated with such respect.
Side by side with me here it lay so many years; it is just such a stone as I am—my close companion.
Do take me!
How can one tell? If I am seen there, I too, perhaps, may be found worthy of being turned to account.’
The Moujik took the stone into his lumbering cart, and conveyed it to the city.
Our stone tumbled into the cart, thinking that it would soon be sitting by the side of the Diamond.
But a quite different fate befell it. It really was turned to account, but only to mend a hole in the road.”

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And so it can be in the workplace.
When a coruscating colleague is promoted to an exalted position those of us left behind may exclaim, “Lucky dog! Why not me? Are my achievements any less stellar?”
Well, the Chorus may answer, “You are but one of hundreds of cobblestones in the road of life. Fret not; it beats being a hole in the road.”
If the vote does not go your way, what to do?
The sanctimonious will proclaim: “Eschew envy.”
If you see yourself as “a diamond in the rough”, keep doing a good job and eventually you will gain recognition, if only within yourself.
Maybe that’s more important than the roar of the crowd?

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869
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REAL NEWS (Dec 14): Fables for Leaders is praised by Midwest Book Review:
“An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover … unreservedly recommended.”
"Fables for Leaders" is a “Reviewer's Choice” at Midwest Book Review (MBR) December, 2017:
“A unique and exceptional approach to developing problem solving attitudes and skills, "Fables for Leaders" is impressively well written, organized and presented.
Thoroughly 'user friendly' and an inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Fables for Leaders" is impressively entertaining, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.”

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Caption: A month ago, Fables for Leaders was singled out for its Five Star award by Readers’ Choice.

10 days to Christmas! Now’s not too late to order your gift copies of "Fables for Leaders" by John Lubans
The behemoth Amazon is linked here. Amazon has the book in stock and ready to ship, as does BookBaby.
And, just around the corner from where I live in Salem, Oregon, at Powell's Books in Portland, OR.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

“An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover … unreservedly recommended.”

Posted by jlubans on December 14, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

Fables for Leaders has been selected as a “Reviewer's Choice” at Midwest Book Review (MBR) December, 2017.

Quoting from the critque:

“A unique and exceptional approach to developing problem solving attitudes and skills, "Fables for Leaders" is impressively well written, organized and presented.
Thoroughly 'user friendly' and an inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Fables for Leaders" is impressively entertaining, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.”

20171117-5star-shiny-web.png
11 days to Christmas! Now’s not too late to order your gift copies of "Fables for Leaders" by John Lubans
The behemoth Amazon is linked here. Amazon has the book in stock and ready to ship, as does BookBaby.
And, just around the corner from where I live in Salem, Oregon, at Powell's Books in Portland, OR.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Aesop Gets It Right, Again

Posted by jlubans on December 12, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Leo Cullum from the New Yorker

An early December essay by the BBCs Amanda Ruggeri, spells out why resting, doing nothing, and reflecting – in other words, doing less – can result in greater productivity, creativity and better health.
Her essay, “The compelling case for working a lot less
cites numerous people who have studied and commented on human creativity and the seeming conundrum of working less to produce more.
She includes the latest thinking from brain science and what it is finding out about how we imagine and create; and about “the part of the brain that activates when you’re doing ‘nothing’, known as the default-mode network (DMN), (which) plays a crucial role in memory consolidation and envisioning the future”
Ruggeri cites Henry Miller who waxes downright Aesopic when he advises aspiring writers to: “Stop at the appointed time. Keep human!”
Two thousand years ago, Aesop understood the importance of rest. And, his fable in 177 words, pretty much says the same (less any reference to DMN!) as Ruggeri’s 2500 word essay.
Here is my blog entry about the unstrung bow from October of 2013. BTW, It also can be found on p.172 in the book “Fables for Leaders” along with 99 other fables relevant to the workplace.

AESOP AND THE BOW*

“When a certain man of Athens saw Aesop playing with marbles amidst a crowd of boys, he stood there and laughed at Aesop as if Aesop were crazy.
As soon as he realized what was going on, Aesop -- who was an old man far more inclined to laugh at others than to be laughed at himself -- took an unstrung bow and placed it in the middle of the road.
'Okay, you know-it-all,' he said, 'explain the meaning of what I just did.'
All the people gathered round. The man wracked his brains for a long time but he could not manage to answer Aesop's question.
Eventually he gave up.
Having won this battle of wits, Aesop then explained, 'If you keep your bow tightly strung at all times, it will quickly break, but if you let it rest, it will be ready to use whenever you need it.'
In the same way the mind must be given some amusement from time to time, so that you will find yourself able to think more clearly afterwards.”
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Even the winged Cupid has to give his bow a rest from time to time. And so it is at work. If, without cease, we keep our nose to the grindstone, our ear to the ground, our eye on the ball, and our shoulder to the wheel, we’ll wind up as humorless and clichéd as the last four phrases!
Worse, we’ll be less productive than if we take breaks. I was surprised with the varied response from staff when I organized a “Day in the Woods”.
This was a playful team building experience and far away from e-mail, voice-mail, offices, desks, and computers. Some took part with enthusiasm; others were reluctant but showed up with an open mind, willing to try out something new. Others, unlike Elvis, never left the building!
They saw a day off playing group games as a waste of time – or so they said. (I think the group’s being a mix of supervisors and staff deterred some. From my work with corporate groups, I have seen bosses very reluctant to mix and mingle and a few appeared fearful of not doing well, of not having THE answer to a problem solving activity.)
A few even took it upon themselves to disparage others’ going, and, if a subordinate wanted to go, they’d not grant permission.
Invariably, the results of those days away were new and strengthened relationships, new perspectives, and, oddly enough, fresh ideas on how to get work done.
Many of my “direct reports” chose to take part; overall about 20% of the total staff volunteered.
I will probably lead a weeklong off-site retreat next summer in Latvia; my draft agenda already includes several of the timeless events from those Days in the Woods. And from what I know of the hard-working Latvians, like Aesop, they already know the value of play.

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

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Thirteen days to Christmas! Avoid the parcel post push, order this instant! gift copies of "Fables for Leaders" by John Lubans
The behemoth Amazon is linked here. Amazon has the book in stock and ready to ship, as does BookBaby.
And, just around the corner from where I live in Salem, Oregon, at Powell's Books in Portland, OR.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE HOP-PLANT”*

Posted by jlubans on December 08, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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“A HOP-PLANT had made its way to the edge of a garden, and had begun to wind itself around a dry stake in the fence.
Now, in the open field beyond stood an oak-sapling.
‘What use is there in that stunted creature, or, indeed, in any of its kind?’ Thus about the oak the Hop used to whisper to the stake.
‘How can it even be compared with you?’
‘You, simply by your erect carriage, look like a perfect lady in its presence.
It is true that it is clothed with foliage; but how rough it is! what a colour it has ! Why ever does the earth nourish it?'
Meanwhile, a week had scarcely passed, before the owner broke up that stake for firewood, and transplanted the young oak into his garden.
His care resulted in full success, and the oak flourished, extending vigorous shoots.
Remarking this, our Hop-plant wound itself about it, and now its voice is entirely devoted to the oak's glory and honour.”
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Savor, if you will, the richness of this fable.
How often do we side with a “tradition”, one that appears stalwart and strong, like a firm stake in the ground?
When an upstart, like the oak sapling, exposes the stake (or process or value or belief) as dead wood, how long do we stay with the good old ways.
When Krylov’s hop plant enviously asks, “Why ever does the earth nourish it?” maybe he is implying that the hop plant knows something, that the stake is rootless.
How long before you, like a reed in the wind, bend and move to the sapling?
A few “reeds” will move early on, because they are independent; their ideas coincide with the sapling’s.
But many others will only move – reluctantly and resentfully – when the status quo becomes indefensible, at least in public.
Krylov is clear about the hop plant as sycophant; it will praise whatever platform it has as long as it gains favour. If you are an oak sapling, don’t think you’ve won when a traditionalist becomes a follower.

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

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Eighteen days to Christmas! Avoid the parcel post panic, order gift copies of "Fables for Leaders" by John Lubans before the holiday stampede!
The behemoth Amazon is linked here. Amazon has the book in stock and ready to ship, as does BookBaby.
And, just around the corner from where I live in Salem, Oregon, at the mighty and magnificent Powell's Books in Portland, OR.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

E-book or Print book?

Posted by jlubans on December 05, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: A not unusual e-book glitch; a split cover.

That’s the question. Early on, whenever I mentioned the “Fables for Leaders” book project, I would declare it was going to be a print book and an e-book – in other words, in two formats, one paper and the other silicone.
So, what changed my mind?
The answer is fairly simple. Unlike the uniformity of paper (a page is a page), the silicone platforms for e-pages are too many in number to accept anything but the simplest of book designs.
Having illustrations on multiple pages would confound even the most advanced e-readers, including smart phones. Like the split illustration above, we would have pictorial non-sequitors all over.
I was told that the only way around this was to strip out all the illustrative detail in Fables for Leaders – in other words, make it a text-only book in the simplest of formats.
So, I would need to have two e-files; one e-file for printing the paper version of the book and another e-file for the book to appear on a Kindle.
Maybe (no guarantee) I could keep the cover, but all else would need to be simplified so as to not confound e-reader apps and platforms.
If you have seen the print book, you know that cutting the illustrative detail (created by Béatrice Coron and Alise Šnēbaha) would take away the book’s personality; transforming a lively and charming book into an etiolated version of itself.
So, now you know why “Fables for Leaders” is a paper book.
At one time I was au courant with the publishing industry, but in semi retirement, less so.
Given the multitudes of print books still gushing forth from presses - to confirm, just drop in at your local Costco and gaze upon the sagging heaps of print books! - I wonder what a several year statistical comparison between print books and e-books might reveal?
You may remember the IT tocsin, “E-books rule!” And paper books were to become quaint and queer things like your father’s Pontiac. Print was (and is) dismissed by the brash and indubitably certain twentysomethings as “Dead Tree” technology.
Is there then a flattening of the demand curve for e-books? Or, are e-books on an altogether separate track from paper?
I will keep an eye out for a creditable summary article. If you know of one, pleases let me know.
In any case, “Fables for Leaders” is a paper book. While not bound in “limp purple leather” it continues the centuries old tradition of ink on paper and the inherited tradition of book design (the shape, color, feel, and texture of the book and its pages) for the human reader.
E-book technology has a long way to go. It need not emulate the incunabula or what has gone on in centuries of print on paper, but it does need to evolve into something more than a poseur of its predecessor.

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Twenty days to Christmas! Avoid the postal panic, order gift copies of "Fables for Leaders" by John Lubans before the holiday stampede!
Find Fables at any number of Internet vendors, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, BookBaby, and Powell’s Books.
The behemoth Amazon is linked here. Amazon has the book in stock and ready to ship, as does BookBaby.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Friday Fable. A Recommended Reading

Posted by jlubans on December 01, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

There are good reasons, every now and then, to leave that arid and windy plain of leadership studies. Find a green oasis and settle in among the palm trees. Reflect.
Literature of all sorts, including fables, helps us to make sense of what goes on in the workplace.
Fables, simple stories packed with wisdom, can help us better understand others and ourselves.
Annette Simmons' book, “The Story Factor: Secrets of Influence from the Art of Storytelling” helps explain the power of story telling in our sense making of life.
One of my former students asked me to edit a book about young professionals and their first years at work.
Of the examples she sent me, most read like annual reports – not exactly a little book to put on one’s nightstand.
A few of the young authors – and here’s my point – told their story: How and why they got into the business and how they were doing.
I was much more interested in those stories than I was in the objective factual statements of achievements.
We respond to stories in ways we do not understand. How and why does a metaphor – a simple allusion to some event in an unrelated way – inspire me and help me to better understand some action?
Simmons' point is that stories (and fables are stories) can carry powerful messages and help us connect with other people. Stories help others understand us. We reveal who we are - just like any other human - and that helps make the sought after connection.
I told my former student to focus on the stories – the more personal the better. Avoid, always, the repelling style of the impersonal annual report.
Speaking of stories, I often use the “Human Compass” as an ending activity in my seminars and classes. The activity derives from the Native American tradition of the “Medicine Wheel” involving the introspective bear, the soaring eagle, the loving mouse and the plodding buffalo along the compass points of our lives.
When everyone has his or her say the Human Compass usually goes well; taking time for that to happen is essential to its effectiveness. I use the compass to help focus participants’ thoughts, individually and collectively, on where they’ve been and where they want to be; a thoughtful summing up and beginning.
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Twenty four days to Christmas! Avoid the panic, order your copy of "Fables for Leaders" by John Lubans before the holiday postal stampede!
Find Fables at any number of Internet vendors, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, BookBaby, and Powell’s Books.
The behemoth Amazon is linked here. Amazon has the book in stock and ready to ship, as does BookBaby.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017