A Business Parable

Tiger climbing up a mountain and a main holding on to his back paw

John was a successful businessman, or so he thought. His business looked successful on paper, but he felt like he was stuck in a rut.

No matter how hard he tried, it seemed like something was always off; progress always seemed slower than expected and profits never quite met their targets.

His employees noticed that something wasn’t right too; John always seem preoccupied or more frequently, in a mood. Harping on what had gone wrong and obsessed about how he was wronged by the employee who quit or the customer who complained.

It was a tense atmosphere where no one wanted to make a mistake.

It was hardly productive.

And day after day John felt more and more a victim.

Focusing on wrongs of the past, obsessing over regrets and mistakes, and muttering to himself … I should have.. I could have…

When not counting the sins committed against him, he would stare out the window … lost in unrealistic fantasies of how and when he would be redeemed.

One evening, John was having a rare dinner with his family and two young children.

They were invisible to John.  Like ghosts.

He could not hear what they were saying and worse he could not even see them.

Until his computer flew off the table and crashed on the floor.

His youngest had a powerful swipe when she swung her arm…. And it was even more powerful when she felt ignored…

Anger gave way to amazement..  at the speed and strength of her swipe..

John looked at her.. 

When did she get so big?

How did I miss it? 

What else am I missing?

John left the computer on the floor and decided to truly join his family at the dinner table. He found himself listening attentively as his eldest talked about her day and the adventures she had in nursery.

She wanted to read to “daddy”.  And for the next 15 minutes she sat on his lap and read her book to him.

Normally John found children’s books ridiculous. Poor plot lines and simple writing after all.

But now something was different.

He listened to every word.

He was present.

And he enjoyed it. Fully interacting with his wife and children with whom he had become a stranger over the last few months.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to re-bond with them.

And in that moment a lightbulb went off in his head:


What other opportunities had he missed by always focusing on what had been going wrong?

What if instead he spent his energy focusing on how to make things right?

Stop stressing about the shortcomings of his staff and instead figure out where they fall short and work together to fill the gaps and improve their skills.

That night, after putting his kids to bed, he scribbled down some notes.  

The next morning he came in with a spring in his step and spoke with a passion his employees had not seen.

He had new ideas for how things were to run.

And how they were to collaborate.

And a commitment to himself.

New Behaviour and a new culture.

No more negativity.  No more obsessing about the past.

No more counting the hairs on his head or the wrongs committed against him.

John found all sorts of new possibilities by committing to finding solutions instead of dwelling on yesterday’s wrongs.

Once the employees saw that he wasn’t all talk and actually walked the walk, the results came pretty quickly.

Opportunities became visible…. and were grasped.

Decisions became faster and easier.

Employees got motivated and passionate about tackling shared goals together.

They stopped waiting for things to go bad and stopped wasting time and energy on covering their backs.

There was now a culture of teamwork and growth.

John’s business quickly grew to new heights and became more enjoyable to run.

Record-breaking profits and satisfied customers wanting more.

A great culture and a great team scaled the business and finally allowed John to become truly free.