Replying to LO26981 --
Replying to Stories for the Inner Ear LO26981
Bruno Martins Soares writes
>I am also in need of good stories for my training program and would be glad if
>you could share some more of yours if you could.
Here's some more stories with much appreciation to my colleague David
1. Felix The Frog
The world, from a frog's perspective...
Once upon a time, there lived a man named Clarence who had a pet frog
named Felix. Clarence lived a modestly comfortable existence on what he
earned working at the local supermarket; but he always dreamed of being
"Felix!" he exclaimed one day, "We're going to be rich! I'm going to teach
you how to fly!"
Felix, of course, was terrified at the prospect: "I can't fly, you idiot!
I'm a frog, not a canary!"
Clarence, disappointed at the initial reaction, told Felix: "That negative
attitude of yours could be a real problem. I'm sending you to class."
So Felix went to a three day class and learned about problem solving, time
management, and effective communication.... but nothing about flying.
Then came flying program. On the first day of "flying lessons", Clarence
could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his
Clarence explained that their apartment had 15 floors, and each day Felix
would jump out of a window starting with the first floor eventually
getting to the top floor.
After each jump, Felix would analyze how well he flew, isolate the most
effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the
next flight. Clarence explained to Felix the benefits of continuous
improvement processes. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would
surely be able to fly.
Felix pleaded for his life, but it fell on deaf ears. "He just doesn't
understand how important this is..." thought Clarence, "but I won't let
nay-sayers get in my way."
So, with that, Clarence opened the window on Day 1 of the flying program
and threw Felix out.
Felix landed with a dull thud.
Next day (poised for his second flying lesson) Felix again begged not to
be thrown out of the window. With that, Clarence opened his pocket guide
to Managing More Effectively and showed Felix the part about how one must
always expect resistance when implementing new programs.
And with that, he threw Felix out the window.
On the third day (at the third floor) Felix tried a different ploy:
stalling, he asked for a delay in the "project" until better weather would
make flying conditions more favorable.
But Clarence was ready for him: he produced a timeline and pointed to the
third milestone and asked, "You don't want to slip the schedule do you?"
>From his training, Felix knew that not jumping today would mean that he
would have to jump twice tomorrow.... so he just said: "OK. Let's go." And
out the window he went.
Now understand this: Felix really was trying his best.
On the fifth day he flapped his feet madly in a vain attempt to fly.
On the sixth day he tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to
think "Superman" thoughts.
Try as he might, though, Felix couldn't fly.
By the seventh day, Felix (accepting his fate) no longer begged for
mercy.... he simply looked at Clarence and said, "You know you're killing
me, don't you?"
Clarence pointed out that Felix's performance so far had been less than
exemplary, failing to meet any of the milestone goals he had set for him.
With that, Felix said quietly, "Shut up and open the window."
With that, he leaped out, taking careful aim on the large jagged rock by
the corner of the building.
And so it came to be that Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.
Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet a single
goal that he set out to accomplish. Felix had not only failed to fly, he
didn't even learn how to steer his flight as he fell like a sack of
cement.... nor did he improve his productivity when Clarence had told him
to "Fall smarter, not harder."
The only thing left for Clarence to do was to analyze the process and try
to determine where it had gone wrong.
After much thought, Clarence smiled and said:
"Next time...... I'm getting a smarter frog!"
2. LESSONS FROM GEESE
As each bird flaps its' wings, it creates an uplift for geese following.
By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying
range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get
where they are going quicker and easier because the are traveling on the
thrust of one another.
Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and
resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly gets back into formation to
take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay with those who
are headed in the direction we want to go, and be willing to accept their
help as well as to give our help to the others.
When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another
goose flies at the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and share leadership.
People, as well as geese, are dependent upon each other.
The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to
keep up their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging, and not something
When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down it honks for help and two
geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it. They
stay with the sick goose until it is able to fly again or it dies. Then
they launch out on their own, or with another formation, or catch up with
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we too will stand by each other
in difficult times as well as when we are strong .... and honk when we
3. How Do You Hunt Elephants?
MATHEMATICIANS hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything
that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left.
EXPERIENCED MATHEMATICIANS attempt to prove the existence of at least one
unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate exercise.
PROFESSORS OF MATHEMATICS prove the existence of at least one unique
elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as
an exercise for their graduate students.
COMPUTER SCIENTISTS hunt elephants by exercising Algorithm A: 1.Go to
Africa. 2.Start at the Cape of Good Hope. 3.Work northward in an orderly
manner, traversing the continent alternately east and west. 4.During each
traverse pass, 1.Catch each animal seen. 2.Compare each animal caught to a
known elephant. 3.Stop when a match is detected.
EXPERIENCED COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS modify Algorithm A by placing a known
elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate.
ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE PROGRAMMERS prefer to execute Algorithm A on their hands
DATABASE ADMINISTRATORS do not need to go out and capture elephants when
they can retrieve them simply with an ad hoc query:
SELECT * FROM AFRICAN_CRITTERS 2 WHERE CRITTER_TYPE = 'TERRESTRIAL' 3 AND
SIZE = 'LARGE' 4 AND COLOR = 'GRAY' 5 AND TRUNK = 'YES' 6 AND ODOR IS NOT
ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at
random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15
percent of any previously observed elephant.
SYSTEMS INTEGRATION ENGINEERS are not so concerned with hunting elephants
as with creating a seamless interface between the elephants and their
ECONOMISTS don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are
paid enough, they will hunt themselves.
STATISTICIANS hunt the first animal they see N times and call it an
CONSULTANTS don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at
all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do.
OPERATIONS RESEARCH CONSULTANTS can also measure the correlation of hat
size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if
someone else will only identify the elephants.
POLITICIANS don't hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you
catch with the people who voted for them.
LAWYERS don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing
about who owns the droppings.
SOFTWARE LAWYERS claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and
feel of one dropping.
VICE-PRESIDENTS OF ENGINEERING, RESEARCH, AND DEVELOPMENT try hard to hunt
elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it. When the
vice-president does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure
that all possible elephants are completely pre-hunted before the
vice-president sees them. If the vice president does see a non-pre-hunted
elephant, (in other words, a live one) the staff will: 1.compliment the
vice-president's keen eyesight and 2.enlarge itself to prevent any
SENIOR MANAGERS set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption
that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.
QUALITY ASSURANCE INSPECTORS ignore the elephants and look for mistakes
the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.
SALES PEOPLE don't hunt elephants, but spend their time selling elephants
they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the season opens.
SOFTWARE SALES PEOPLE ship the first thing they catch and write up an
invoice for an elephant.
HARDWARE SALES PEOPLE catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as
4. Helen Keller on Happiness
"It is curious to observe what different ideas of happiness people
cherish, and in what singular places they look for this well-spring of
their life^Ę Most people measure their happiness in terms of physical
pleasure or material possession or the power they have. Could they win
some visible goal which they have set on the horizon, how happy they would
be! Lacking this gift or that circumstance or that position, they would be
If happiness is to be so measured, I who cannot hear or see have every
reason to sit in a corner with folded hands and weep. If I am happy in
spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith,
so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life^Ę if, in short, I am an
optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing.
I can say with conviction that the struggle which evil necessitates is one
of the greatest blessings. It makes us strong, patient, helpful men and
women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the
world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My
optimism then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief
in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with
the good, that it may prevail.
The world is sown with good; but unless I turn my glad thoughts into
practical living and till my own field, I cannot reap one kernel of the
5. Horse Story
There is a story told of a horse that became frightened and ran away from
its owner. It was so frightened that it ran for many miles before stopping
to graze on the side of the road. The owner totally lost track of where
the horse had gone and was unable to find it.
The horse ended its run near the house of a farming family in the next
valley. They were working near the road and saw the horse. It took three
of them and some time but they finally caught the horse and brought it to
their farm house. None of them recognised the horse so discussion turned
to finding the rightful owner and returning the horse.
One lad was particularly good with animals. He mounted the horse and set
of at a slow trot. When the horse reached the road it turned right and
went on. Every time the horse tried to move off the road to graze the boy
spurred it on. After over an hour of this the horse tuned into the
driveway of a farmhouse in the next valley. The farmer came out pleased
that someone had retuned his horse. "But how did you know where to bring
it?" he said to the lad. "I didnšt the lad said, but the horse did."
6. The Pond
The middle-aged man sat staring at the water as it dripped slowly off the
rock. The drop tediously formed, gathered strength and then leapt off its
perch into the small puddle below. The thirsty man looked down at his
little puddle and waited. He knew it would take another 450 drops to fill
the puddle with enough water to deflect his thirst. He had counted each
leaping drop every day, for years, with agony and knew exactly how many it
would take before he would consume the puddle.
You might ask why, why would anyone count the drops, couldn't he find more
water, how did he get there, could he not move on.
The man had grown up thirsty in a desert and knew the depth of thirst. He
had felt it for many years and had somehow stumbled onto this little water
When he first found it he was overjoyed. He knelt and drank it all in a
few brilliant moments. He even licked the rocks for a while but found no
help in this.
He made camp at the little puddle and decided this was enough. He had
enough water to exist, his small frame could survive on a meager ration,
he had learned not to ask for more, but to accept what was offered. He
would allow no other noises or sights to distract him but spent his waking
moments watching the drops leap into the puddle. He was focused on his
On rare occasions, when it was quiet, just after he drank his supply, he
would sit back and relax for a brief moment. He would close his eyes and
enjoy the fleeting pleasure. He thought he heard sounds of others just
over the hill, laughing, enjoying life, one time he even thought he heard
the sound of water splashing, but he quickly put the cruel illusions out
of his mind and focused again on this existence. He could not afford such
There were times when he was upset at his meager rations, he would break
into a wild thought that he could bath, even swim in a large pool of water
and actually enjoy it with others. The loud sound of a drip quickly
brought him back to reality.
One time he even looked at the hill and stood to his feet to walk over it.
Was there more to life? He took one step and then suddenly felt a breeze
blowing, and that was as far as he got. The wind sometimes blew sand in
the water and he was afraid the water hole would be filled with sand and
he would lose a drink. He could not leave his precious existence in
pursuit of this luxury called life. The risk was too great.
Yet if you took a walk from where this poor soul lived, over one hill and
around a bend you could find a river running deep and wide. Many came and
bathed in it. It gave freely of its bounty to all who would come.
7. Gurušs Cat
When the guru sat down to worship each evening the ashram cat would get in
the way and distract the worshippers. So he ordered that the cat be tied
up during evening worship.
Long after the guru died, the cat continued to be tied during the evening
worship. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the
ashram so that it could be duly tied during evening worship.
Centuries later learned treatises were written by the gurušs disciples on
the essential role of the tied cat in all properly conducted evening
8. There was an old man, a boy, and a donkey.
They were going to town and it was decided that the boy should ride the
donkey. As they went along, they passed some people who thought that it
was a shame for the boy to ride and the old man to walk. The man and boy
decided that maybe the critics were right so they changed positions.
Soon they passed some more people who thought that it was a real shame for
that man to make such a small boy walk. The two decided that maybe they
both should walk.
Soon they passed some more people who thought that it was stupid to walk
when they had a donkey to ride. The man and the boy decided that maybe the
critics were right, so they decided that they both should ride.
They soon passed other people who thought that it was a shame to put such
a load on a poor little animal. The old man and the boy decided that maybe
the critics were right so they decided to carry the donkey.
As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and it fell
into the river and drowned.
The moral of this story is: If you try to please everyone, you will
eventually lose your ass.
9. Setting The Overall Direction
"Would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to go." Said the Cat.
"I donšt much care where ---" said Alice.
"Then it doesnšt matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--- so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, youšre sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long
Alice In Wonderland
With best wishes
Life is good!
[Host's Note: Mark, thanks for these great stories. ..Rick]
Mark Spain <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>
"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.