THE ORIGIN - Aesop's Fables date from the 6th century BC. Aesop was apparently a Phrygian (Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey) 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. These timeless lessons show some of the best analogies in today's business scenarios. Aesop's Fables also gave rise to and reflect many of today's expressions and clichés. Aesop's Fables total more than 300. Here are the best of Aesop's Fables.
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THE BELLY & THE MEMBERS - One day the various members of the human body, including the brain, arms, legs, eyes, feet, hands, lungs, etc., got together to discuss the body's belly and what they thought about its contribution to the group efforts on behalf of the body. The body parts were all unhappy and resentful for various reasons, and chose to target their collective anxieties at the belly, in a rather bullying way. The unhappy body parts decided that the belly was not doing enough towards maintaining the body's operations, and accused the belly of spending its time lazily consuming food and allowing other members to do all the work. "We have decided that we will no longer do what we need to do in order to feed you," they said to the belly, "Because you do nothing to help us, and you are lazy and unproductive." And they stopped feeding the belly. The belly soon starved. But then so did the body and all of its parts starve too. The unhappy body parts now realized - too late unfortunately to save themselves and the body - that although the belly seemed to be doing nothing, it had in fact been fulfilling a vital function necessary for the wellbeing of the body and all of its parts.
What can be learnt from this fable - Time and again group efforts include certain members whose contributions may seem insignificant or less valuable than others, and whose behaviours may seem different and less worthy than other louder more noticeable contributors, but it is not generally such a simple matter. Group dynamics is complex, and it is easy to get the wrong impression about and undervalue other members' efforts when we do not understand the entire situation, and particularly when we do not understand how individual members might be crucial to overall teamwork and results. When we target and victimize group members we weaken the group, and all of its members.
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THE DOG IN A MANGER - A dog was lying in a manger (container from which cattle feed) of hay which had been provided for the cattle's to eat, but when they approached he angrily growled and prevented them from getting near, to which they remarked, "He doesn't need it himself yet he won't let us have it, the selfish beast."
What can be learnt from this fable - If you don't need it, don't keep it from others who do. Respect their needs. Just because you have no use of it does not mean that others cannot utilize it.
MERCURY & THE WOODMAN - A woodman lost his axe into the river when it glanced off a tree he was felling. Mercury (the God) appeared while the man was lamenting his loss, and on hearing his tale dived into the river, and recovered a golden axe. "That's not mine," said the woodman, so Mercury returned it to the river, resurfacing this time with a silver axe. "That's not mine," again said the woodman, and again Mercury returned it to the river, resurfacing this time with the woodman's own axe. "That's mine," said the grateful woodman. Mercury promptly rewarded the man for his honesty by giving him the golden and silver axes as well. On hearing the woodman's tale, an envious friend set out to do as the woodman had done, visiting the same spot and deliberately losing his axe in the river. Just as before, Mercury appeared and dived in to recover the lost axe. When Mercury produced a golden axe, the man greedily stretched out for it claiming, "That's mine." Mercury, not best pleased with the man's dishonesty, held on to the golden axe, and refused to recover the original.
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What can be learnt from this fable - Honesty is the best policy. No matter how much people crib and complain that honesty does not work in business, good businesses appreciate honest people and reward honesty. There are countless examples of honesty being the best policy in the corporate world.