I met Gillian this week on my travels. She’s only been working within my company for 2 weeks but stood out like a ray of sunshine amongst her peers. So much energy, so much passion, and above all an ability to challenge, to question in the most astute way. Later that day she sent me an email apologising for asking “contraversial” questions. I replied with the following …
“I remember you asking good questions, I remember you asking interesting questions, and I even remember you asking challenging questions, but i dont remember you asking any contraversial questions. “
It reminded me of a little story I wrote a few year back to illustrate a point to a few of my less open minded colleagues so i sent it to her …
“THE FARMER AND THE GRASSHOPPER”
A KOREAN FABLE
Mr Kim was a simple farmer who lived in a small village. Each year the village had an annual competition and the winner got to farm the best land for the next twelve months. The rules of the competition were very simple, each farmer had to find a grasshopper that could jump higher than any other. Mr Kim was determined to win this competition as he knew that if he got the best land his family would prosper for many years to come.
One day Mr Kim was working in his field when suddenly a grasshopper jumped onto the top of his plough, which stood almost one metre above the ground. Mr Kim had never seen a grasshopper jump so high, and he knew at once that he had found a very special talent. He spoke kindly to the young grasshopper and offered him the chance to perform better than any other, and in return, he would get food, shelter and protection. So the grasshopper left his field and went with the farmer who provided him with a grass filled box in which to live. The box was 25cm square and 25cm high, and every day the grasshopper practiced his jumping so that he would be ready to take his opportunity.
Eventually the day of the competition came and each farmer took his turn to show how high their grasshopper could go. Mr Kim was very confident knowing that he had the best young grasshopper in the village and that the highest jump so far had only been 50cm but sadly things didn’t go to plan. No matter how hard he tried Mr Kim’s grasshopper could only jump 25cm.
At first Mr Kim couldn’t understand what had gone wrong but eventually he realised that although he gave the grasshopper the best of everything, the grasshopper had forgotten how to jump higher than the restriction Mr Kim had placed around him. He promised himself that next time he found such a grasshopper he would ensure it was given the freedom to perform to it’s true ability.
I wonder how many of us in our role as Managers behave like the farmer and how many of our garduates turn into grasshoppers!!
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I suspect Gillian will go far. I hope so, and I will do everything I can to encourage and support her.