Krylov’s THE SQUIRREL AND THE THRUSH*

Posted by jlubans on July 03, 2018

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ON a certain holiday a big crowd had gathered in front of the window of a rich man's home, and stared with open-mouthed wonder at a Squirrel running in the revolving wheel of its cage.
A Thrush, perched on a branch of a neighbouring tree, also wondered.
The Squirrel ran so fast that his feet seemed to twinkle, and his bushy tail spread itself straight out behind him.
"Dear old friend of my native woods," said the Thrush, "will you please tell me what on earth you are doing?"
"My dear fellow," replied the Squirrel, "I can hardly stop to talk, for I have to work hard all day. I am, in fact, the courier of a great nobleman, so that I can hardly stop to eat or drink or even to take breath."
And immediately the Squirrel began again, running faster than ever in its wheel.
"Yes," said the Thrush, as he flew away, "I can see plainly enough that you are running. But for all that, you are always there at the same window."
There are many busy-bodies in the world, always worrying, always rushing back and forth; every one wonders at them. They seem ready to jump out of their own skins; but in spite of it all, they make no more progress than does the Squirrel in his wheel.
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Do you find yourself, from time to time, very busy doing unproductive work, running in circles?
Some of us recognize it and, unlike the squirrel, get off the revolving wheel.
In my field of work, one measure of a person’s effectiveness was the number of daily meetings attended. The more attended, the more “productive” the person.
But, even the most frequent meeting-goer would eventually stop and wonder about results. Are we doing better because of meetings, or are we revisiting the same issues without resolution?
Alas, instead of banning meetings, we’d tinker with the concept: focus the agenda, narrow down the participants, improve the documentation, etc. In other words, a better exercise wheel.
What dreadful things would happen if we eliminated meetings?

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869.
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There are more interesting ideas in Lubans’ book “Fables for Leaders” at Amazon.

© Copyright John Lubans 2018
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