What is love? LO22847

Thu, 7 Oct 1999 11:39:47 -0700

Replying to LO22808 --

Nick's definition and examples sound to me a lot like what Antoine de
Saint-Exupery meant by "taming." See the attached Jotting.

Joe Podolsky


--- Jotting 083 ---

Joe's Jottings #83 3/24/99

Some books speak timeless wisdom to me. Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art
of Motorcycle Maintenance is my favorite book on quality; Sun Tzu's The
Art of War has fundamental truths about competition; Stewardship by Peter
Block gives me a good way of looking at management and leadership,
especially in virtual world.

Great books all, but today I want to think about relationships with
customers, with suppliers, with partners and allies, even with colleagues.
So I reach for The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery.

As many of you know, The Little Prince is a fable about a boy who lives
alone on a tiny planet and travels in space having extraordinary
adventures. Chapter 21 (they're short chapters) is about well, you'll
understand. I'm quoting enough to give you the meaning, but I urge you to
read the whole chapter (and the whole book, and in the original French if
you can (I can't)) to feel the music.

It was then that a fox appeared

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."

"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince, "What does it mean

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish

"To establish ties?"

"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a
little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I
have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you,
I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if
you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in
all the world "

"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a
flower. I think that she has tamed me"

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt
me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike.
And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be
as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step
that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying
back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my

"Please tame me," he said.

"I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much
time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One only understands the things one tames," said the fox. "Men have no
more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the
shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so
men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me"

"What must I do to tame you?" asked the little prince.

"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at
a little distance from me like that in the grass. I shall look at you out
of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source
of misunderstanding. But you will sit closer to me every day"

The next day the little prince came back.

"It would have been better to came back at the same hour," said the fox.
"If, for example, you (always) come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then
at three o'clock, I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and
happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be
worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you
come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart must be
ready to greet you."

So the little prince tamed the fox

"Go look again at the roses," said the fox. "You will understand now that
yours is unique in all the world. Then come back and say goodbye to me,
and I shall make you a present of a secret."

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No
one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one"

And the roses were very much embarrassed.

"You are beautiful, but you are empty," the little prince continued. "One
could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that
my rose looks just like you the rose that belongs to me. But in herself
alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses;
because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put
under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the
screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except
the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she
that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes
when she said nothing. Because she is my rose."

And he went back to meet the fox.

"Goodbye," he said.

"Goodbye" said the fox. "And now here is my secret: It is only with the
heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so

"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must never forget
it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are
responsible for your rose "

"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he
would be sure to remember.

The keys to "the taming process" are these:

- Patience; sit a little closer each day; words aren't important, but
actions are.
- Dependability and predictability; routines become meaningful rituals.
- Spend time together, even if you think the time is "wasted."
- Take care of your rose; protect it; nurture it; it's your
responsibility, forever.
- We can't tame all the roses, all the foxes. We must choose the very
few that we're willing to commit to.

All this has a lovely romance about it when we're talking about people
taming foxes and roses. But what about the taming of equals, specifically
customer-supplier relationships? Who is taming whom? The answer, of
course, especially in this interrelated world where "value webs" are
replacing "value chains," is that true taming is symbiotic; both build
strong ties to each other. One of the organizations starts the taming
process, but both must invest in it.

Exactly what those investments should be are beyond the scope of this
jottings. For some ideas, books by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, by Joe
Pines, and by Karl Albrecht are good places to start.

What foxes, what roses have you tamed? Better yet, what systems have you
tamed? Or even better, what systems, what marketing programs, what
business models have you built to tame your customers?

That last question sounds almost manipulative. Is taming a manipulative
action? Is "manipulative" a bad word? Have you read Dale Carnegie's How
to Win Friends and Influence People? It's been in continuous print since
the 1930's because its prescriptions are effective. But many people scorn
its advice because they think it's dishonest.

And here's an even harder question, "Whom have we allowed to tame us?"
Taming sounds neat when we are the "tamer," but how does it feel to be the
"tamee"? Do we dare tame others if we are not willing to be tamed as



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