Friday Fable. The Grasshopper Saves for a Rainy Day!

Posted by jlubans on September 06, 2013

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We all know the story, the Ant and the Grasshopper – it is probably one of Aesop’s best-known fables. The grasshopper fiddles away his summer and starves in the winter. The industrious ant – not to be diverted from storing food by the grasshopper’s sweet music - has the last (literally) laugh. It’s a harsh lesson for the grasshopper.

Well, that fable suggests the adage: Saving for a rainy day. The notion derives from farming. There will be times when the blue bird of happiness absconds and you find yourself shoeless on a dirt road with nothing for market. That’s why farmers save for a rainy day.
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Caption: “The Storm Aftermath” by my friend, Perry Harrison, 2006. Perry sketched this North Carolina couple shortly after a storm, the farmer looking forlornly out the farmhouse window at his ruined crop.

Southwest Airlines' former CEO, Herb Kelleher had this to say in a presentation at the Stanford Business School about “managing in good times for the bad”: "We figure there's going to be at least two crises in every decade, and we'd better be ready for them. My slogan has always been, ‘We manage in good times so that we'll do well in bad times.'"

Indicative of Southwest’s resilience and anticipation was its being the first airline back in American skies after the terrorist assaults in September of 2001. Mr. Kelleher offers us good advice. Unfortunately, too few of us see the storm clouds gathering while we enjoy the clear skies of a seemingly perfect climate. Changing for the better is doubly hard in good times. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, is the all too-ready refrain to keep the status quo. So, one of the most challenging parts in leadership is keeping an organization focused on getting better, wisely using all of its resources and avoiding waste even when it does not have to. Once ingrained, that mindset will serve us well when the bad times come.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: Georgia Public Library Service.


Copyright 2013 John Lubans

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