Friday Fable. Aesop’s “The Prophet”*

Posted by jlubans on April 03, 2015


“A WIZARD, sitting in the marketplace, was telling the fortunes of the passers-by when a person ran up in great haste, and announced to him that the doors of his house had been broken open and that all his goods were being stolen. He sighed heavily and hastened away as fast as he could run. A neighbor saw him running and said, ‘Oh! you fellow there! you say you can foretell the fortunes of others; how is it you did not foresee your own?’"

This fable is a distant cousin to “do as I say, not as I do”. I recall a consulting expert who could spout dozens of remedies to my workflow problems. It was on a reciprocal visit to his shop that I saw his workflow problems were even worse than mine. Apparently, while he had answers for me, he could not apply them in his own bailiwick. Now, I suspected that the problems were caused more by his untrusting attitude toward staff than with the mechanics of doing something. While he could talk about the mechanics with lighting speed, he never could relinquish control to the people doing the work. I had the good fortune to work with my staff, one on one, and the workflow improved, seemingly all on its own.

*Source: FABLES By Aesop Translated by George Fyler Townsend (probably from this edition): “Three hundred and fifty Aesop’s fables”. Chicago, Belford, Clarke & Co., 1886.
Available at the Gutenberg Project.

Leading from the Middle Library of the week: The Roger John Voskuyl Library, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

N.B. Fifth year anniversary of publication of Leading from the Middle looms (June 2015). Get your copy before it goes out of print.

PS. I am currently at the University of Latvia as a Visiting Professor for my 8-week seminar on Freedom at Work: The Democratic Workplace.

© 2015 John Lubans

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Posted by Jerry Campbell on April 03, 2015  •  15:46:52

I was a colleagues of John's, and it is true. He knew how to encourage staff and, indeed, work flow did improve--almost magically. This is good advice!

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