Friday Fable. Abstemius’ “The Lion and His Battle Array”*

Posted by jlubans on October 20, 2017

Caption: Illustration de Grandville (1870) Note the lizard on the lion’s helmet.

“The lion, king of the beasts, about to go to war with the birds, arranged his followers in a battle array.
When asked by the bear how the sluggishness of the donkey or the timidity of the rabbit could bring victory, when he saw them in the midst of the other soldiers, the lion answered:
‘The donkey will rouse the soldiers to fight with the blaring noise of his trumpet, while the rabbit will carry out the duties of a courier because of the swiftness of his feet.’
The fable shows that no one is so contemptible that he cannot benefit us in some way or other.”

Fables are impractical! Sugared pabulum for kids!
If you still think that after hearing the lion's wisdom on using existing resources, then here’s a bit more clarification from La Fontaine:
“A monarch provident and wise
Will hold his subjects all of consequence,
And know in each what talent lies.
There's nothing useless to a man of sense.”**
The “provident and wise” leader “know(s) in each (subject) what talent lies”.
The leader’s job (among several others) is to ascertain and then develop proactively that talent for the good of the organization.
How then to apply this to a traditional organization, one in which the leader inherits existing hires?
Some may appear not to be worth much. So, what to do? Weed or figure out new roles?
Weeding is easy. Far more difficult is thinking out how best to use the seemingly redundant or the passed over.

*Source: Abstemius, ca.1440-1508. Translated by Laura Gibbs.

** Source: THE FABLES OF LA FONTAINE Translated From The French by Elizur Wright. [original place and date: Boston, U.S.A., 1841.] A New Edition, with Notes by J. W. M. Gibbs,1882. Available at Gutenberg.

Fables for Leaders arrives just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a beautiful gift in appreciation of the best leader you know; even better for your worst leader – shove it under the door!
Or, get it for anyone learning what it means to lead or to follow.
Is there anyone I’ve left out?
And, of course, this book of fables – the underpinnings of the world’s literature - is a “natural” for every library, our cultural bastions.

Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP! The BookBaby listing features a “See Inside” the book.

© Copyright 2017 John Lubans

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