Aesop’s fables are more than just stories for school children, they are tools to teach important business lessons. Take a new look at these classic stories and see how they can benefit your business. You may be surprised that you and your children get two different lessons from the same fable.
Most people read on or more of Aesop’s fables during their childhood without realizing they are great business tools.
A fable is commonly defined as a short story, usually with animals as characters that is used to convey a lesson to the reader. Fables are special because by using animals to convey the message readers is a less threatening method of delivery. As in life, in business, there are many lessons to be learned. It is quite useful to have a few fables in your arsenal to share with your employees when you want to teach a lesson in the workplace. Using a fable and animal characters to show consistency and reliability is much less threatening to an employee than saying, “Rhoneesha, you must learn to do a complete job every time for every customer.”
Let’s take a look at a few well-known fables and show how they can be translated into lessons that are useful in the business world.
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The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs
Once upon a time, there was a farmer who had a goose that laid golden eggs. Each day the farmer would collect the eggs and sell them in order to get money to take care of her needs. One day her greedy friend stole the goose. When the thief stole the goose she cut it open because she was sure the inside of the goose was filled with gold and something that she could use to grow gold for herself. It was not. When the goose was cut open, it was an ordinary goose on the inside. The farmer lost her precious source of income. The greedy friend lost a friend and had nothing to show for her deceit.
There are many business lessons that may be taken from this story.
1. Do not take a thing apart if you don’t know how to put it back together again
2. Just because someone makes something look easy, doesn’t mean it is, carry out due diligence before acting
3. Never let greed guide your actions, things that look profitable from the outside may not be profitable once you understand the inner workings of an organization
When it comes to how things work at your place of employment, be sure to pay attention so that you truly understand how things fit together. It is important to understand the process so that when you make adjustments, they improve things rather than making them worse. It is important to pay attention to how your co-workers and supervisors do things. Often they make things look easy because of skill and hard work, not because of luck. When you pay close attention to what is going on around you, you will understand this and be able to adapt your behavior and actions appropriately. Finally, while you are in business to make a profit, do not let greed determine the course of action you will take. Always keep in mind that there is a difference between acting as a result of greed and acting due to a desire to increase profits.
The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Once upon a time, there was a wolf who wanted to eat some sheep. In order to catch the sheep unaware, the wolf dressed up as a sheep and went off to play and walk with the sheep. The wolf laughed and played with the sheep and learned all about the sheep. It learned which sheep were fast and which sheep were slow. It learned which sheep were weak and which sheep were strong. The entire time the wolf in sheep’s clothing never let the sheep know she was a wolf. The entire time she acted just like the sheep. Finally, after learning all she wanted to know about the sheep, the wolf attacked and ate all the sheep she wanted.
There are many business lessons that can be learned from this story.
1. Be wary of those who come to learn all you have to teach without providing anything in return
2. Do not show all of your strengths and weaknesses to everyone you meet
3. Share your secrets, carefully, all your information is not for everyone
In the business world, you will see competitors and co-workers who come to you to learn how you do things. It is great to teach others how to do things better, more efficiently, and more profitably in business. It is a good practice to share your knowledge and help other to grow and thrive. As you share information and help others to bloom and blossom both personally and professionally, it is important not to do so at your own expense. When helping others do not lose sight of your business goals and objectives. Finally, when you let people into your business circle and they begin to show themselves to be untrustworthy, act immediately to sever ties so that further damage cannot be done.
The Hare and the Tortoise
Once upon a time, there was a tortoise and a hair who decided to race one another. The hare was quite the braggart and thought she could beat the tortoise without any effort at all. The tortoise was more modest and thought she could win if she used her best efforts. The tortoise did not predict what she would or would not be able to do. When it came time to race, the tortoise, started off and began to push forward slowly and steadily. The hare was very confident in her ability and thought she could be the tortoise with no effort at all. When the race started, the hare did not start, but talked with her friends at the starting line. She thought that she was fast enough that she could start almost at any time and still beat the tortoise. The tortoise continued to move forward and slowly and steadily moved from the start of the race to the end. By the time the hare realized that the tortoise was close to the finish line and began the race, it was too late, the tortoise was crossing the finish line.
There are many business lessons that can be learned from this story.
1. Never underestimate the competition, always work to the best of your ability
2. Begin at the beginning and work diligently until the end
3. Do not brag before an event begins, instead let your work speak for you
If you are good at your job, it is easy to attempt to rest on your laurels and think you can do better than all those around you. Some people are so good at their jobs they can actually do a partial job when half asleep and have the job be good enough to be acceptable. This is a dangerous pattern of behavior. When you believe you are better than all those around you and that you can outperform them with your hands tied behind your back, you may be tempted to do things that way all the time. If you do, you risk being outdone by an employee who shows up and simply puts forth good work steadily and dependably. In all you do at work, start put forth your best efforts and work without excessive bragging and the insulting of others.
All these fables are stories that children learn early in elementary school. Children are often excited when they learn the fables and enjoy sharing them with their family members. The fables are taught in a relaxed manner and lessons applicable to school children are taught. Because the lessons that are emphasized are for children, people do not think about the fables as they grow up. If you as an entrepreneur show your employees how these lessons from their childhood apply to their business careers you will help the lessons stick.
No matter what you read, look between the lines for the bigger lesson.
So often when we read, especially when we read for pleasure we look only at the story on the surface. Instead, with Aesop’s fables or anything else you read, take time to really read between the lines and see if there is some other lesson to be learned. When you find those deeper lessons, it makes the reading experience even better and more beneficial.
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