“All Hat, No Cattle”: The Fly and the Mule.*

Posted by jlubans on March 02, 2018

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Caption: Engraving by Christopher Hagens, 1667.

A Fly that sat upon the beam
Rated the Mule: " Why, sure you dream?
"Pray get on faster with the cart
Or I shall sting you till you smart!"
She answers: "All this talk I hear
With small attention, but must fear
Him who upon the box sustains
The pliant whip, and holds the reins.
Cease then your pertness - for I know
When to give back, and when to go."

This tale derides the talking crew,
Whose empty threats are all they do.
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“All hat, no cattle”, one might say of the fly.
In the workplace, it is good to know the difference between the petty and the consequential.
Our friend the mule knows who’s boss.
Do you?
The fly’s sting is of no concern to the mule; far more concerning is the whip and bit.
And, figuratively, the presumptuous fly can represent the busywork in our lives, those daily detours from the quest.
While facebooking, twittering, or snapchatting (or any other Circe-like daily dalliance) you can get lost in the shrubs and forget to lift up your eyes to the sky.
As an antidote to getting too caught up in the daily grind, the Nordics, we are told, practice friluftsliv or “open-air living”, a literal going off of the grid to regain perspective, to reflect on what’s important and what’s not.

*Source: The Fables of Phaedrus Translated into English Verse. Phaedrus. Christopher Smart, A. M. London. G. Bell and Sons, Ltd. 1913.

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For more fables to guide one’s leadership or followership, get your copy of “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or get your library to order a copy!

Peculiar pricing on Amazon! Three re-sellers are offering Fables for over $53 a copy. These are not, alas, rare book dealers recognizing a beautifully illustrated and designed book, but just Amazon wannabe's hoping to market to unsuspecting buyers. $19.99 is still the going price at BookBaby, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

© Copyright John Lubans 2018

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