Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE KITE”

Posted by jlubans on September 29, 2017


“A KITE, which had been allowed to soar to the clouds, called out from on high to a Butterfly down below in the valley,
‘I can assure you that I can scarcely make you out. Confess now that you feel envious when you watch my so lofty flight.’
‘Envious? No, indeed! You have no business to think so much of yourself. You fly high, it is true; but you are always tied by a string. Such a life, my friend, is very far removed from happiness. But I, though in truth but little exalted, fly wherever I wish. I should not like all my life long to have to conduce to some one else's foolish amusement.’"
So, like when I asked “Why fables?
this little story “conduces” me - and maybe you - to thinking about freedom at work, letting go, setting limits, clarifying responsibility and expectation.
Are you a supercilious Kite on a string? Or are you a self-managing Butterfly? Do you set your own schedule or does someone set it for you?
Do you have choice at work or are you on a treadmill? Do you think for yourself or do you participate, unconsciously perhaps, in “group think”?
When I “let go” – as I famously did some time ago - a few of my former “direct reports” thrived; they saw the opportunity to spread their wings and did so, flying alongside of me.
A few saw a different opportunity, one to undermine our reform initiatives. And some felt uncomfortable without the “string” of supervision – they preferred more guidance and were uncertain as to my and their respective roles. I have to admit to some confusion on my own part.
I learned from that, realizing that while some thrived in the Butterfly mode; others needed clarity and guidance before they could be weaned of dependence. What about the alienated? They could not be trusted so the only way to counter their sabotage would be with the positive results from our change efforts.
If I had to do it over again, I would have only freed up those staff who were capable of freedom – of being Butterflies – and ramp up supervision of those who either found freedom not to their liking or who sought to de-rail necessary reforms.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869

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© Copyright John Lubans 2017

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