It’s the Best Way to Motivate

by Eric Wright

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to teach timeless principles to your children or grandchildren, try Aesop’s Fables (5-600 BC). Most of the tales conclude with, “…and the moral of the story is…” You may remember the Tortoise and the Hare or the diligent Ant and the freeloading Grasshopper. Since “moral” and “morale” are inseparable, these fables uncover timeless lessons and can even give you a competitive edge. One of his fables is about interdependency or the importance we should place on each other.

The Fable of the Body

“One day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were doing all the work and the Belly was getting all the food. So they held a meeting and after a long discussion, decided to quit their work until the Belly consented to carry its proper share of the load. So for a day or two, the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth wouldn’t receive it and the Teeth were idle. But in a few more days the Members began to find that they were extremely weary; the Hands could hardly move and the Mouth was parched and dry, while the Legs were unable to support the rest. Thus they found that even the Belly, in its unseen and quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body and that all must work together or the Body will go to pieces.”

The Bible makes a similar analogy, emphasizing that we err if we look down on others because we think that we are superior, like an eye thinking it doesn’t need the foot. Or the foot assuming it isn’t significant because it is not a hand.

Key to Opportunity

Though sports pundits focus on Heisman Trophy contenders, which are usually quarterbacks or running backs, every Alabama football fan has a renewed respect for the often overlooked position of the field goal kicker. The failure to recognize value has a long and well recorded history. Steve Jobs, who died last year, once recalled offering his ideas to Atari, “Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts and would you consider funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary and we’ll come work for you.” They said, ‘No.’ So then he and Steve Wozniak went to Hewlett-Packard, who refused them because they hadn’t finished college.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once rebuked one of his generals for referring to a soldier as “Just a private.” He reminded him that, “If this war is won, it will be won by privates!”

It’s What Makes Winners

John Wooden won more NCAA basketball championships than any other coach, a remarkable ten in a 12-year period. One key to Wooden’s legendary success was the philosophy he drilled into his equally legendary players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. “The most important player when we win – is the rest of the team.”

Wooden encouraged his players to acknowledge the assists. If one player received a pass that allowed him to score, Wooden wanted him to give the other man a wink or point to him as they moved down to the opposite end of the court. A new player once asked Wooden, “What if the other player isn’t looking when I point to him?” Wooden just smiled, “Oh don’t worry. He’ll be looking.”


A respected author and speaker, Eric Wright is the assignment editor for SpaceCoast Business magazine and the founder and pastor of Journey Church in Suntree.