Krylov’s THE EAGLE AND THE SPIDER*

Posted by jlubans on August 14, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Teacher Mary Blow’s illustration from Scholastic.


AN Eagle had soared above
the clouds to the highest peak of a mountain range, and perching upon an ancient cedar, admired the landscape spread out below. It seemed as though the boundaries of the whole world could be seen from that height.
"Heaven be praised," said the Eagle, "for giving me such powers of flight, that there is no mountain too high for me to reach. I am now looking down upon the beauties of the world from a point which no other living creature has ever reached!"
"What a boaster you are," observed a Spider from a near-by twig. "Where I am sitting isn't so far below you, is it, friend Eagle?"
The Eagle glanced upward. True enough, the Spider was busily spinning its web from a twig above his head.
"However did you reach this height?" asked the Eagle. "Weak and wingless, as you are, how did you ever crawl way up here?"
"Why, I fastened myself unto you," returned the Spider. "You yourself brought me from down below clinging to your tail feathers. But now that I am so high up in the world I can get along very well by myself, without your help. So you needn't put on any airs with me. For I want to tell you that—"
At this moment a sudden gust of wind swept by, and brushed the Spider, web and all, back again into the depths of the valley from which it had come.
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Sometimes riding another’s coattails might not be the best way to get to where you think you deserve to be.
If getting there is all you want, then relax; you’ve made it. Unless this height turns our to be - as it does for the spider and countless others in the hierarchy – your “level of incompetence”.
If you have an overweening ambition, as they say, then you had better have the resources to survive and thrive like the eagle in his home.
The eagle sees clearly from far away, she illuminates and is illuminated in the easterly sunshine of springtime.
Do you, the coattail rider, want to be inspired? From the mountain’s peak, will you inspire others?

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869.
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© Copyright John Lubans 2018

Democracy in the Workplace

Posted by jlubans on August 10, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

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In this blog’s never ending pursuit – like Superman – of “Truth, Justice and the American Way” – we note a couple interesting articles from the Wall Street Journal:
In “Yes, Ordinary Citizens Can Decide Complex Issues” James Fishkin elaborates on his application of “deliberative polling” to problem-solve community and national problems.
Working with “representative panels of the populace have helped choose energy policy in Texas, constitutional amendments in Mongolia, and other issues in 28 countries.”
Similar to the “Future Search” process, Deliberative Polling does appear to be a way to involve normal citizens in decision making and to find good solutions to difficult problems.
However, so-called experts lurking in the background may be helping a bit too much to shape the problem, discussion and selection of “answers”. We just can’t fully trust the regular “Joe” or “Jill”, can we?
The notion of including all types of workers in making decisions about an organization’s future is nothing new.
However, much of the discussion on why we should involve workers has been largely anecdotal and theoretical.
Now we have a large study to contradict the all too easy option of limiting innovation to elites or experts.
In “Why Innovation Is a Team Sport” Janaki Chadha reports on a new study’s conclusion “that companies where more people said they felt their ideas were sought out and valued tended to yield more revenue growth and employee productivity.”
The finding comes from a survey of a half million employees at nearly 800 companies. Companies found to be less welcoming and inclusive of ideas from all employees had poorer growth prospects.
For further reading on this fascinating topic of workplace democracy consider my essays on democratic bees, town hall meetings in Vermont and the old timey mustering process to select leaders (find these via the blog index).
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© Copyright John Lubans 2018

Krylov’s THE ASS AND JUPITER*

Posted by jlubans on August 02, 2018  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Balaam’s Ass enduring one of three beatings.

WHEN Jupiter stocked the universe with the various tribes of animals, the Ass, among others, came into the world.
But, either purposely or from an accident owing to the press of work at such a busy time, (Jupiter) made a sad mistake, and the Ass came out of its mould no larger than a squirrel.
Scarcely any one ever took any notice of the Ass, although the Ass yielded to no one in pride.
The Ass was much inclined towards boasting. But what was it to boast of?
With such a puny stature, it was ashamed to show itself in the world.
So our conceited Ass went to Jupiter, and began to pray for a larger stature.
"Have pity on me !" it cried : "how can I bear this misery? Lions, panthers, elephants, all obtain honour everywhere, and, from the highest to the lowest, everyone goes on talking about them only. Why have you treated Asses so unkindly that they never obtain any honour, and not a word is ever spoken about them by any one?
But, if I were only as big as a calf, I would lower the pride of the lions and panthers, and all the world would be talking about me."
Every day our Ass continued to sing this same song to Jupiter, and bothered him so that at last he granted its request, and the Ass became a big beast.
But, besides this, it acquired such a savage voice that our long-eared Hercules dismayed the whole forest.
"Whatever is that brute? What family does it belong to? It has very long teeth, anyhow, hasn't it? and no end of horns!"
At last, nothing else was talked about besides the Ass.
But how did it all end ? Before the year was out, everyone had discovered what the Ass really was.”
Our Ass became proverbial for stupidity, and, ever since that time. Asses have been beasts of burden.

Noble birth and high office are excellent things; but how can they profit a man whose soul is ignoble?
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Surely, not all asses,
two legged or four, are of an ignoble soul.
I am reminded of Balaam’s Ass - the biblical talking donkey -
who disobeys his master and saves him (and the Hebrews) from destruction.
The Ass serves as a metaphor of the best kind of follower in the first chapter of my book, “Leading from the Middle”.
What’s the best kind of follower? The one that tells you the truth, especially the truth you do not want to hear.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869.
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To purchase a copy of Fables for Leaders, click on this button:


Or, you can buy a copy at AMAZON.

© Copyright John Lubans 2018