Aesop’s Fables date from the 6th century BC. Aesop was supposedly a Phrygian slave, and met his end when thrown over a cliff at Delphi for being ugly and deformed. Whatever the story of Aesop, the fables that bear his name (Aesop collected the fables, he didn’t write them) contain timeless lessons.
The French author Jean de la Fontaine got inspired by Aesop’s fables to write his own’s.
It is of course not my intention to lecture about the hidden secrets of ancient fables, seen as keys in management of change but it is simply a way to show how the common sense that inhabits these fables aged more than two thousands years, can be refreshing.
The north wind and the sun (persuasion is better than force – Accepted change vs forced change)
The north wind and the sun argued which was the stronger. On seeing a traveller they agreed a suitable test would be to strip him of his cloak. First the wind blew with all his might, but the more he blew, the more than man wrapped the cloak tightly around himself. When the sun’s turn came, he gently beamed at the man, who loosened the cloak. The sun shone brighter still, and the man threw off his cloak.
The crab and his mother (lead by example not by words – Walk the talk)
A mother crab criticised her son for walking sideways, whereupon the son asked his mother to show him how to walk straight. Of course the mother crab was unable to walk any straighter than her son, and soon apologised for criticising what she herself was guilty of too.
The ass and the mule (agree to reasonable change now or you can risk far worse enforced change in the future)
A man loaded his ass and his mule for a journey, but after travelling for a while the ass began to weaken, so he asked the stronger mule to carry some of his load. The mule refused, and in due course the ass collapsed and died. The mule was then forced to carry the ass’s load, and also the skin of the poor ass. The mule could only just manage the painful load, and realised his failure to help a little at first had caused a much greater suffering to himself.