Lubans' Fable "The Cat, the Man, and the Flying Sausages." Repeat!

Posted by jlubans on November 07, 2023


While looking on my hard drive for mention of Ralph Stayer's classic 1990 HBR article "How I Learned to Let My Workers Lead" (or, as I recall it, "Let 'em Taste the Sausage"), I ran into one of my fables: "The Cat, the Man, and the Flying Sausages" from May of 2015.
I was reminded of Stayer's article while reading "Legacy: What the All Blacks (NZs rugby team) Can Teach Us About the Business of Life" by James Kerr: "Shared responsibility means shared ownership. A sense of inclusion means individuals are more willing to give themselves to a common cause."
That pretty much sums up my Letting Go theory, a leadership principle I practiced my entire career.
I will write some more about Legacy and the All Blacks
but my cats and sausages fable takes whimsical priority.
Here it is again:
Once upon a time, a hungry man went to the store. He looked and looked; he was a fussy shopper. He picked a big package of sausages because it looked the best of all; it had happy faces on the wrapper that was in colors of gold and green. I said he was a fussy shopper not a smart one.
Well, after frying up a few, he put the rest away in the fridge. The sausages tasted terrible and looked even worse when cooked, all curled up like mottled intestines.
But, whenever he went to the refrigerator, he wondered what to do with those disgusting sausages? Being frugal, of necessity, he could not bring himself to throw them away.
When he offered them to his neighbor, she took a look and emphatically shook her head. No, thank you!
One day, looking out the kitchen window of his third floor apartment, he saw a raggedy white cat in the enclosed yard, a yard full of weeds and dandelions.
Aha! he thought, I bet that cat would like a sausage. So he tossed one out. Thirty minutes later, the sausage was gone; the cat must have scarfed it up. So, he tossed a sausage out the window each day until they were all gone. The man was happy.
The next day, he heard meowing below. The cat looked up at the man in the window, as if saying, "Where's my sausage?"
So the man went to the store and bought more sausages. Each day he would throw out a sausage. Those flying sausages, the man thought, must be like manna from heaven.
The man had very little money and soon it was all gone, spent on sausages. He could no longer buy food for himself. He died.
The cat, also died. Not from hunger, but from over-eating.
In Heaven, when they bumped into each other, the cat reproached the old man. "You are a kind man, but I have to tell you those were the worst sausages I have ever eaten. I only ate them because I like a tidy yard; after all it is where I live and hunt, under the vines up against the walls. I did not want the yard full of foul smelling sausages. When I meowed up at you that one day it was to tell you to quit tossing those damn sausages into the yard!"
The man was abjectly sorry. The cat flicked his tail, as cats will do, and went his way.
So think twice, my listeners, maybe try an ounce before buying a pound.
ONLY a click away, More fabulous wisdom:

And, my book on democratic workplaces has much to say about "Letting Go" Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.
? John Lubans all text 2015 & 2023

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