Lessing’s AESOP AND THE ASS*

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

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Caption: Discerning Donkey

THE next time you write a fable about me," said the donkey to Aesop, "make me say something wise and sensible."
"Something sensible from you!" exclaimed .Aesop; "what would the world think? People would call you the moralist, and me the donkey!"
Be careful whom you support as wise and sensible.
-------------------
The donkey gets a b
um rap and Lessing’s Aesop goes along.
As a former slave, Aesop might have had a bit more sympathy for the donkey.
For all of Lessing’s philosopher credentials – even though he never sported a beard – he gets no further than the stereotype. Once a silly ass always a silly ass!
What about the biblical Balaam’s Ass?
I’ve often referred to that creature as a star follower, one who hears an invisible guardian angle and stubbornly stops his leader’s headlong gallop into perdition.
Aesop, btw, was never a moralist. Morals and moralists came long after Aesop.
Aesop, it seems, never doubted a listener’s getting the message.
Imagine that!
Does Lessing really have to tell us about taking care in whom we “support as wise and sensible”?
Good advice, nevertheless, during this presidential election.

*Source: Lessing, Fables, Book I, No. 30. Translated by G. Moir Bussey
Excerpted From: Cooper, Frederic Taber, 1864-1937. “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land.”

__________
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Lost Your Mojo*?

Posted by jlubans on August 18, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Who’s to blame? Is it you or is it corporate culture, the environment in which you work?
A study from 2015 suggests that it’s more the culture than the individual. It’s understood, it seems, that given the right corporate culture an employee will align herself and make the most of a good job.
I am not so sure; you could be the wrong fit for a great job.
But, there’s no question that a star employee under a freedom-granting administration may well become less luminous under a new boss jealous of an empowered employee.
I have worked in both settings and excelled under the former and far less so under the latter.
Also, I have seen up close and personal with one organization often cited for its good mojo: Southwest Airlines.
The many SWA people I interviewed loved their work and that love carried over into great service and successful returns on investment.
Sure, there may have been a few that did not buy into the SWA way of working, but they may have been having a bad day, or, more likely, had personal problems not related to the workplace.
I often refer to SWA in my blog. For just one reference out of many, go to this link.
Unlike some in the business press who regard SWA as a management cliché (sort of like the decades ancient allusion to 3Ms coming up with – out of nowhere – its Post-It notes).
I keep referring to SWA because it continues to hold true to its values over the decades.
According to the study there are 6 or more influences on workplace motivation. The authors term this as “Total Motivation” or ToMo: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia.
The first three influences are positive and direct motivators and the bottom three are indirect and tend to de-motivate.
As many previous researchers (e.g. Fred Emery)
on why people work have shown, the more external or indirect a “force” the less positive in motivating anyone.
For example, if you have no clue why you are doing the job (inertia), that condition will require more than coffee to get you “pumped” for the daily grind.
Ditto for going to work solely for economic gain or because you are trying to please someone other than yourself.
If you enjoy your work (it’s almost like play) and the greater the future potential (gaining experience and an explicit career ladder) and a positive, meaningful purpose for the job it’s likely to trigger your internal motivation to do a very good job.
The 2015 article is not an opinion piece but a delineation of quantitative ways to gauge how an organization’s culture sways individual motivation; the researchers calculate a total motivation (ToMo) score for each variable. They conclude that leaders can indeed successfully change corporate culture for the better by pursuing a higher ToMo score.
Why is this important?
To quote the authors: “… cultures that inspired more play, purpose, and potential, and less emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia, produced better customer outcomes.”
And, getting to the bottom line, they conclude that those corporations with the most positive ToMo scores perform better than industry peers with lower ToMo scores.

Lost you workplace mojo?
Take this quiz and rank your response as high, low or medium.
If you get “Highs” for Question 3, 4, and 5 that suggests you have a high ToMo and probably a pretty effective personal Mojo going on.
And, if you get “Highs” for Questions 1, 2 and 6 you probably lack personal motivation hence your mojo may be AWOL as well.
QUIZ. I work because:
1. Without this job I would be worried I couldn't reach my financial objectives.
2. There is no good reason for doing so.
3. The work itself is fun – I derive pleasure – from the work.
4. This type of work will help me reach my personal goals.
5. I believe the work has an important purpose.
6. If I didn't work, I would disappoint people or myself I care about.

*For those readers who only know the word MOJO from Austin Powers,
mojo also refers to an almost magical personal power, an infectious enthusiasm, and a palpable motivation.
While we (most of us) laughed at Austin’s raunchy bedroom mojo, there’s much more to it.

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Lubans’ Mr. Prufrock and the Three Legged Dog – A Fable*

Posted by jlubans on August 11, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Rupert Prufrock, en masque, came through the Paint Store door carrying a 6” wide Purdy paintbrush and a dripping bucket of paint.
He was scowling, but you’d not know it since the mask covered up most of the Scowl
A devout Do-It-Yourselfer, the epidemic had kicked him into high gear with one fixer-upper project after another. His latest was painting a much-neglected Parlour.
A dog, less a Leg, name of Percy (the dog not the leg) Leered up at him, hoping for a cookie.
The Dog’s mask had slipped down to his neck. Rupert, a mask enforcer, was dismayed but not distracted, staying true to his mission.
He said to the Young Enterpriser behind the counter,
“I asked for Contractor Satin and you gave me Catalyzed Clear”.
“OK”, said the Young Enterpriser, a summa cum laude graduate of Sharp’s School of Sales (Neo-Golden Rule: Do onto others FIRST) “I can do this for you. I’ll only charge you $1 to recycle the Catalyzed paint, as required by the EPA, and then will give you a special deal on the Satin, for $24. How’z Zat?”
Expecting an even swap, Rupert was taken Aback and then some.
Befuddled – to Say the Least - he turned his Chagrin on the dog.
Rupert demanded the dog put on his mask. The Young Man shrugged and, said Lugubriously, “It is what it is” and slipped into the Backroom to get the Contractor Satin.
Returning, he found Rupert had dialed up the Sanitation Police and they were coming in the door, Guns drawn.
Percy, knowing better, took off between the Sanitizer’s legs and out the Open Door to freedom and was not seen again until dinnertime.
Rupert did get his paint and some satisfaction of having wiped the implicit grin off the Young Man’s Face. “Let this be a lesson to you!” exclaimed Rupert, slamming the store door.
Moral: A three-legged Dog gets off Free more often than a two-legged Customer.

*With apologies to George Ade.

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George Ade’s THE FABLE OF THE KID WHO SHIFTED HIS IDEAL*

Posted by jlubans on August 07, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: James J. Jeffries (1875-1953)

An A.D.T. (American District Telegraph) Kid carrying a Death Message marked "Rush" stopped in front of a Show Window containing a Picture of James J. Jeffries and began to weep bitterly.
A kind-hearted Suburbanite happened to be passing along on his Way to the 5:42 Train.
He was carrying a Dog Collar, a Sickle, a Basket of Egg Plums and a Bicycle Tire.
The Suburbanite saw the A.D.T. Kid in Tears and it struck him that here was a Bully Chance to act out the Kind-Hearted Pedestrian who is always played up strong in the Sunday School Stories about Ralph and Edgar.
"Why do you weep?" he asked, peering at the Boy through his concavo-convex Nose Glasses.
"Oh, gee! I was just Thinking," replied the Urchin, brokenly.
"I was just Thinking what chance have I got to grow up and be the Main Stem, like Mr. Jeffries."
“What a perverted Ambition!" exclaimed the Suburbanite.
"Why do you set up Mr. Jeffries as an Ideal? Why do you not strive to be like Me?
Is it not worth a Life of Endeavor to command the Love and Respect of a Moral Settlement on the Outskirts?
All the Conductors on our Division speak pleasantly to Me, and the Gateman has come to know my Name.
Last year I had my Half-Tone in the Village Weekly for the mere Cost of the Engraving.
When we opened Locust avenue from the Cemetery west to Alexander's Dairy, was I not a Member of the Committee appointed to present the Petition to the Councilmen?
That's what I was! For Six Years I have been a Member of the League of American Wheelmen and now I am a Candidate for Director of our new four-hole Golf Club.
Also I play Whist on the Train with a Man who once lived in the same House with T. DeWitt Talmage (a famous preacher)."
Hearing these words the A.D.T. Kid ceased weeping and cheerfully proceeded up an Alley, where he played "Wood Tag."

Moral: As the Twig is Bent the Tree is Inclined.
------------
Mr. Ade’s Suburbanite
may well have been the inspiration for Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt (1922).
The idolized world champion boxer and “Main Stem”, Mr. Jeffries was, alas, shortly (1910) to be knocked from his pinnacle.
But, all that aside, have you not met the smug Suburbanite seemingly happy with his circumscribed life who seeks re-assurance by bragging of his accomplishments?
It need not be the suburbs; it can be a job in any traditional line of work.
Sort of like the afflicted-with-office Barney Fife of Mayberry, who not only chases fires but also hands out tickets for dogs running without a collar and for a homeowner's “failure to abate a smoky chimney”.
In any case, the ADT kid is hardly convinced to abandon Mr. Jeffries; instead, being of a distractible age, he pursues, for the moment, other interests.
Do you wonder if the Death telegram ever gets delivered?

*Source: FABLES IN SLANG by GEORGE ADE, ILLUSTRATED by CLYDE J. NEWMAN 1914

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© Copyright John Lubans 2020