Saturday’s Friday Fable, Aesop’s “The Ass and His Shadow”*

Posted by jlubans on May 17, 2014

Caption: Ass absconding with shadow.

“A TRAVELER hired an Ass to convey him to a distant place. The day being intensely hot, and the sun shining in its strength, the Traveler stopped to rest, and sought shelter from the heat under the Shadow of the Ass. As this afforded only protection for one, and as the Traveler and the owner of the Ass both claimed it, a violent dispute arose between them as to which of them had the right to the Shadow. The owner maintained that he had let the Ass only, and not his Shadow. The Traveler asserted that he had, with the hire of the Ass, hired his Shadow also. The quarrel proceeded from words to blows, and while the men fought, the Ass galloped off.”

“In quarreling about the shadow we often lose the substance.”

Speaking of shadows, a colleague of mine had an unhappy experience in an administrative shadow-land. The “shadow” in her situation was an unqualified internal candidate (Joan) who had been chosen as a department head (long before my colleague was on site). This was done, my colleague later surmised, to avoid conflict with and to “reward” the long serving and loyal, Joan. Joan agreed, in writing, to relinquish the position after serving three years. Five years later, Joan was still the department head and appeared to have forgotten the tacit, albeit written, agreement. What to do? The dealmakers showed my newly hired friend the letter of agreement. She was to tell Joan to step down. My friend did so. Joan was outraged and stormed out of my colleague’s office, never to speak to her again and to forever term my friend a “cowardly worm.” Strangely, Joan never blamed the dealmakers – all three of whom were still in residence.

“Open books” are one of the many advantages of a democratic work place. Shadowy deals are eschewed; conflict is dealt with in an honest and open way. Delay, subterfuge and procrastination are not options.

*Source: AESOP'S 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 Gutenberg.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: Dowling College Library
Oakdale, NY United States
As a side note, there are now 1,378 holding libraries for e- and print versions of Leading from the Middle. You can get your own print copy for half off from the publisher.

@John Lubans 2014
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