An Inuit Fable: THE OWL AND THE TWO RABBITS*

Posted by jlubans on July 05, 2020

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AN Owl saw two Rabbits playing close together and seized them both, one with each foot.
But the Rabbits were too strong for him, and ran away, dragging the Owl with them.
The Owl's wife shouted to him: "Let one of the Rabbits go and kill the other!"
But the Owl replied, "The moon is waning and will soon disappear, and then we shall be hungry; we shall need both of them."
The Rabbits ran on; and when they came to a boulder, one of the Rabbits ran to the right side, while the other ran to the left side of it.
The Owl was not able to let go quickly enough and so was torn in two.

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We’ve heard the adage; a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Here, two rabbits in hand are one too many for Mr. Owl.
He should have listened to the Mrs, some would say. Alas, he didn’t.
Like the classic the Dog and His Reflection
the fable shows the consequences of being greedy.
But, there’s more.
Are there not times when we (individual or corporate) choose to hold onto things we’d be better off letting go?
We may cling to an overflowing storage space full of delayed decisions: or we can stubbornly stick with antiquated ways of working or we fail to replace inadequate leadership.
I ran into this mindset while trying to change a hidebound organization to one willing to act on new ideas, new ways to provide quantifiably better service to our clients.
If this organization had a motto, it was: “We’ve always done it this way and we are proud of it!”
After years of crashing into our metaphoric Boulder we finally began letting go. Eventually we became a “client-first” model and some of us wondered what took us so long?

*Source: Fable From “The Eskimo in Baffin Land”, by Franz Boas included in Cooper, Frederic Taber, 1864-1937. “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land.”
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© Copyright John Lubans 2020

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