He was only 4 when his mother passed away, but he remembered some stories she had told about the kind-hearted king of Sukhotai. Ever since he was small he wanted to meet this king. One day, when helping a friend to find food for elephants, he found so many branches that the friend offered him a job to become the assistant of the King's mahout. He worked hard cleaning elephants sheds and finding food. One fine morning Makato's patience and hard work got rewarded: he was to accompany the King's elephant an a parade. As the king mounted the beast, in his splendid, shiny costume, he dropped a tiny cowrie shell. Makato picked it up and held it out to the king. who told him to keep it.
|Image: Susil Sri Creations|
At the time the people of Sukhotai used cowrie shells as money, and although one little cowrie had little value, he wanted to use it wisely. He went to the market to buy seeds, yet quickly realized he could not even buy the smallest bag of seeds, while he noticed a lettuce seed stall.
"Lady, if I dip my finger into this pile of seeds, can I take those that stick to my finger for one cowrie?", he asked. "Well why not", replied the sales lady, amused by his suggestion. Makato carefully scraped the seeds from his finger and planted them, watering the tiny sprouts daily, until the garden was covered in fresh, green lettuce. Proud as he was, he offered to king his first produce.
"Where did you get these, my boy?" the king asked surprised, and Makato told him the story. He king was impressed by so much intelligence and industry that he offered him a fixed position at the palace.
- Why do you think the lettuce women agreed to let Makato dip the seeds?
- Have you ever asked someone a favor? Was the favor awarded?
- What can you learn from this story from Makato's point of view?
- What do you think about the king's perspective?
Apart from being a dedicated hard worker Makato has shown initiative and creativity to make something of his life. This story nicely illustrates an Afghan proverb: 'one who does not appreciate the apple, won't appreciate the orchard'. There is also the perspective of the king, who was loved, generous and considerate. He is 'the wise man in the background'. As managers we should aim to inspire by rewarding determination, creativeness and the small efforts of all employees, not only of the big people. Managers need to create an enabling environment for all staff, from the cleaning lady and office clerks to the top sales representatives.
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