Friday Fable: Aesop’s “THE TWO FROGS AT THE WELL.”*

Posted by jlubans on November 16, 2012

“There were two frogs whose pond had dried up, so they went looking for a new place to live. When they came to a well, one of them thought that they should jump in immediately, but the other one said, 'Wait: what if the water were to dry up here too; how would we be able to get back out again?' 
The story teaches us not to approach a situation without thinking about it carefully first.”
Translator’s Note: “L'Estrange applies a well-known English proverb in his epimythium: ''Tis good Advice to look before we leap.'”

Wise advice, certainly. But then what about, “He who hesitates is lost?” Or, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained?”
Permit me to add a revisionist ending: Out of the blue, an observant owl swooped down on the debating frogs, seized one in his claws and soared off. Panicked, the other frog leaped high, right into the open mouth of an attentive fox!
And so it goes sometimes in the workplace, as we dither and put off decisions. Sometimes, we seem wedded to the notion of never riding a wild horse into the sun!**
In my profession - perhaps others - it is considered good practice for a task force to list out all relevant questions about the feasibility of implementing a new way of work or service. We, assiduously, list out and debate the pros and the cons, the plusses and minuses of making the decision. The un-prioritized minuses usually exceed the plusses by a ratio of 10:1. The more minuses (reasons not to change) the more satisfied the task force members. Answering the what-if’s (some would stump Athena!) and anticipating the worst-case scenarios drain the task force’s time and energy. Inevitably, the deadline – if there is one – passes. The task force then takes decisive action: "We need more time for further study!”
I discovered a remedy to indecision. I (the Great Unknowing Being) told them I’d make the decision if they did not in 24 hours. Can you guess the outcome?
A better adage: “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” except when you are on that wild horse!

*Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
**“Ride A Wild Horse” by Hannah Kahn with thanks to Jerry Campbell for introducing me to this poem.
PS. Speaking of Jerry Campbell, if you're in Texas, Aggieland has Leading from the Middle online (registration required.

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