Know Your People

A brief and cautionary teaching story for those in leadership positions, courtesy of the 13th century poet Saadi. Anyone who has ever been unlucky enough to work under inept or self-absorbed team or company leaders (often bad listeners) may no doubt relate as well:

The story of Darius and the herdsman

Darius, king of Persia, became separated from his retinue while hunting. A herdsman came running towards him, and the king assuming the man to be an enemy, raised his bow. Immediately, the herdsman cried ?I am no enemy. Seek not to kill me. I am he who tends the king's horses, and work in this meadow.?

Regaining his composure, the king smiled and said, ?Heaven has befriended thee, otherwise would I have drawn the bowstring to my ear.?

?It showeth neither wise administration nor good judgment,? replied the herdsman, ?when the king knows not an enemy from a friend. Those who are greatest should know those who are least. Many times hast thou seen me in thy presence, and asked of me concerning the horses and the grazing fields. Now that I come again before thee, thou takest me for an enemy. More skilled am I, O king, for I can distinguish one horse out of a hundred thousand. Tend thou thy people as I, with sense and judgment tend my horses.?

Ruin brings sorrow to that kingdom where the wisdom of the shepherd exceeds that of the king.

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