One of the most frustrating moments at work is having to work
with an indecisive leader, one who keeps postponing decisions
in the hope that someone else will make that decision or that
the problem will simply disappear. We find such leaders
particularly in the civil service or in large organizations with
strong union backing. These officers are promoted by virtue
of their seniority and while they are comfortable taking
instructions, most are hopeless when they have to be the ones
issuing instructions. Not everybody can make a good leader
as leadership requires a different skill set and a high degree of
responsibility and accountability. It may be something that
the people at the helm of the organizations do not want to
admit to, maybe because they themselves benefited from the
system and have to maintain it to preserve their position and
The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass
(Illus by Arthur Rackham)
A Miller and his son were driving their Ass to a neighboring fair
to sell him. They had not gone far when they met with a troop of
women collected round a well, talking and laughing. “Look there,”
cried one of them, “did you ever see such fellows, to be trudging
along the road on foot when they might ride?” The old man
hearing this, quickly made his son mount the Ass, and continued
to walk along merrily by his side.
Presently they came up to a group of old men in earnest debate.
“There,” said one of them, “it proves what I was a-saying.
What respect is shown to old age in these days? Do you see
that idle lad riding while his old father has to walk? Get down,
you young scapegrace, and let the old man rest his weary limbs.”
Upon this the old man made his son dismount, and got up himself.
In this manner they had not proceeded far when they met a
company of women and children. “Why, you lazy old fellow,”
cried several tongues at once, “how can you ride upon the
beast, while that poor little lad there can hardly keep pace
by the side of you?” The good-natured Miller immediately
took up his son behind him.
They had now almost reached the town. “Pray, honest friend,”
said a citizen, “is that Ass your own?” “Yes,” replied the old man.
“O, one would not have thought so,” said the other, “by the way
you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the
poor beast than he you.” “Anything to please you,” said the old
man; “we can but try.”
So, alighting with his son, they tied the legs of the Ass together
and with the help of a pole endeavored to carry him on their
shoulders over a bridge near the entrance to the town. This
entertaining sight brought the people in crowds to laugh at it,
till the Ass, not liking the noise nor the strange handling that
he was subject to, broke the cords that bound him and,
tumbling off the pole, fell into the river.
Upon this, the old man, vexed and ashamed, made the best of
his way home again, convinced that by endeavoring to please
everybody he had pleased nobody, and lost his Ass in the
Try to please all and you end up pleasing none