A couple of weeks back in her post “Almost Half Way“, my blog partner Margaret wrote about taking long trips. She tagged it as a Thought Starter and ever respectful of my colleague, I’ve been thinking about it.
Her item was a reminder that no matter where we think we are going,we must never forget where we are. It called to mind a joke I heard from a Polish economist nearly 25 years ago. It concerns a farmer so I expect every agricultural society has its own version.
A farmer has a donkey and in an effort to get the most out of his small farm, he decides to feed it as cheaply as possible. The simplest method is to feed it less so on the first day, he gives it one bale of hay and the donkey finishes it.
On the second day, he gives the animal half a bale of hay. The donkey finishes that and seems perfectly content. So on the next day, he feeds it a quarter of a bale of hay.
This seems to go well and the next day in town, he boasts to a friend about his simple yet revolutionary money saving device.
A few weeks later, he runs into his friend again and the friend asks how the project is going.
“Almost perfect,” the farmer says. “I kept cutting the amount of hay in half and I kept getting the same work out of the donkey. But then I hit a set back.”
“What was that,” the friend asks?
“Well, just when I got the donkey down to eating nothing, he died,” the farmer says.
I see a lot of those farmers all around us. People running operations, wanting to do great things, and filled with big ideas. By definition, big ideas lay claim to our thoughts; they absorb us; they are exciting.
And they can have no connection to the here and now. They can starve us of what we truly need and yet be so mesmerizing, we press on.
What are the examples of those big ideas in your world? Have you ever been seduced by one yourself and if so, what helped you shake loose of it? What big idea do you wish others would give up? And if a big idea is set aside, what fills its place? What makes big ideas so darn seductive?