The Mouse Helps the Lion

We use stories to break down obstacles to learning…..

The stories that we have used in this series are meant to teach us that we are ultimately responsible for our actions and ourselves. We have to take responsibility for our decisions as well as our miscalculations.
We are told that we must exceed our limitations. But in order to exceed your limitations you must first know what your limitations are.
These stories will help us become more aware of ourselves – our strengths and weaknesses, our values and beliefs, our actions and reactions – because once you become aware of something you can learn to manage it better.

Leadership competencies are leadership & management skills and behaviours that contribute to superior performance. By using a competency-based approach to leadership, organisations can better identify and develop their next generation of leaders. While some leadership competencies are essential to all firms, an organisation should also define what leadership attributes are distinctive to the particular organisation to create competitive advantage. However, skills needed for a particular position may change depending on the specific leadership level in the organisation. By using a competency approach, organisations can determine what positions at which levels require specific competencies. Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviours that lead to successful performance.

The following stories look at some of the leadership and management competencies (“The Value-Added Employee,” by Edward J. Cripe and Richard S. Mansfield, Copyright 2002 by Workitect Inc) that are necessary in today’s modern and successful organisation.

Myth Management Me | Mouse and Lion | Tharoor Associates

A lion was caught in a hunter’s net and no matter how hard he struggled he could not get free. He could do nothing but lie there and wait for the hunter to come and kill him. But just as the lion had given up all hope of escape he saw a little mouse wander past.

This was it – finally a chance to get free.

And so the lion called out to the mouse and begged for help. The mouse – who was just a tiny little creature – looked at the huge lion lying there. I mean, he was not even the size of the lion’s mouth. He didn’t want to set the lion free. It would take less than one full gulp for the lion to eat him.

The mouse politely declined to help but the lion begged and pleaded and cried and promised that he wouldn’t hurt the little mouse till finally he managed to convince the little creature to help him. And so the mouse climbed on top of the lion and began to cut through the ropes and the knots one by one till he got to the very last knot. If he cut through this he knew it would set the lion free but just as he got to this rope the mouse stopped. The lion was furious, he roared at the mouse. You promised to help me, you promised me and now you are trying to go back on your word.

But the mouse said “No I will not go back on my word. I will set you free as I promised but I am going to wait till the hunter comes back before I set you free. If I let you out now it could be that you keep your promise and do not hurt me. Or it could be that you suddenly change your mind and eat me up. After all you have been tied up for hours without anything to eat. I cannot be sure of what you will do.

But if I wait till the hunter is here and then set you free your only thought will be save yourself. And I know I will definitely be safe.”

This story falls into Preventing and Solving Problems Competency

Forward Thinking: The ability to anticipate the implications and consequences of situations and take appropriate action to be prepared for possible contingencies.

  • Anticipates possible problems and develops contingency plans in advance.
  • Notices trends in the industry or marketplace and develops plans to prepare for opportunities or problems.
  • Anticipates the consequences of situations and plans accordingly.
  • Anticipates how individuals and groups will react to situations and information and plans accordingly.

Strategic Thinking: The ability to analyse the organisation’s competitive position by considering market and industry trends, existing and potential customers (internal and external), and strengths and weaknesses as compared to competitors.

  • Understands the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses as compared to competitors.
  • Understands industry and market trends affecting the organisation’s competitiveness.
  • Has an in-depth understanding of competitive products and services within the marketplace.
  • Develops and proposes a long-term (3-5 year) strategy for the organisation based on an analysis of the industry and marketplace and the organisation’s current and potential capabilities as compared to competitors.

This is a very famous story from the Mahabharata. The last time we told this story at a corporate event one senior bank manager told us that the mouse was very wrong in what he did. He said that God has said we must help others selflessly – in other words without any thought for ourselves. The fact that the mouse thought of himself first meant that he was not a good soul.
Most people will agree that the mouse was very intelligent but when they hear the argument of ‘selflessness’ they begin to doubt their own initial judgement.
Please don’t.
Selflessness does not mean sacrificing yourself to someone else’s cause. You are responsible for looking after yourself. I think the mouse was extremely sensible. He rescued the lion – he did not refuse to help another person who reached out to him. And he made sure that he did not become a victim himself and therefore a burden on somebody else.
Learn to understand how much you can do for someone else without feeling victimised or that you are being taken advantage of. And then go out and do it wholeheartedly.

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