I very much enjoy fiction and perhaps that explains, at least in part, why I’m drawn to business books such as “The Go-Giver”, “Getting Naked” and “Who Moved My Cheese?”. Lessons are often much more clear to me when presented in parable form such as these. (I should state here that a dear friend and editor of a business journal continues to point out to me that these stories are allegories and not parables. I’ll leave that campaign for him to lead 🙂 ). The point is that people are able to relate to stories – be they parables or allegories.
So it comes as no surprise to me that I very much enjoy Aesop’s Fables – due in large measure to their briefness and the simple moral each one delivers. One such fable is The Wind and the Sun which I share here:
The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
Moral of Aesops Fable: Kindness effects more than severity.
This is but one version of the fable and one of several morals attached to it. Other versions are “Persuasion is better than force” and “Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail”.
Regardless of the variation, for me, it is a lesson in influence well learned – one which is applicable in all aspects of life’s dealings – be they personal or business.
I’ve learned this lesson as the result of my own actions – having been at different times both the Wind and the Sun. I’ve learned this lesson having been the “traveller” – experiencing each approach from various managers, partners, clients and providers. I’ve learned this lesson from personal dealings as well.
To be an effective leader…to deliver positive influence…to maintain and build sound relationships…it’s best to be the Sun more often than not. It is important to listen with intent; to understand others’ thoughts and ideas (even if we don’t agree); to accept that we might be wrong and to strive for fairness and a mutually beneficial outcome.
Bluster rarely is the answer. Challenging and attacking and pushing are not conducive to positive outcomes. Bluster begets more bluster. By the same logic…kindness and gentleness begets more of the same. Understand that I am in no way suggesting that there is not a need to be firm, forceful, direct and/or unwavering in business or in life. There is just a higher likelihood of achieving the results we strive for by erring on the side of being ‘the Sun’.
Highly successful leaders and people with great influence know this to be true..and their results prove it.
There is of course a great deal to be learned from fa