Young Monk with Flour

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.

Once upon a long time ago there lived a young monk who would, as per tradition beg for his food because he would eat only what he received in alms. And every day the gift of food that he received would be a small quantity of wheat flour. And of this wheat flour the young monk would eat a little bit and save the rest in an earthenware pot that he kept at the bottom of his bed. One day the monk noticed that the pot was almost full and this was very exciting because for the first time in his life he actually had something that was worth money! And in his excitement the young man fell into a delightful daydream. He dreamt how – now that the pot was full – he could go sell it for a great deal of money. With the money he would buy 2 goats that would soon breed and expand into a whole flock. He would then sell these goats and buy cows and when they grew he would sell them and buy Buffaloes, then houses, then bigger houses. Seeing these enormous mansions a rich merchant would offer him his beautiful young daughter in marriage. He dreamt that she would bear him sons. He imagined how he would shout at her to take the boys away so he could read in peace and when she did not pay him any attention he would give her a kick to show her who was master. And the daydream seemed so real that the young monk lashed out with his foot – so hard – that it broke the pot and covered him in a cascade of flour.

broken pot myth management

Actions speak louder than dreams. Do it rather than dream it.

This competency is Dealing with People -Social Intelligence (SI). Social Intelligence is one of the best predictors of effective leadership, but it is poorly understood and under-researched. Social intelligence is the ability to understand social situations, to play social roles, and to influence others. It involves being able to see others’ perspectives and to understand the complex and abstract social norms, or informal “rules” that govern all types of social situations. Social intelligence is quite broad, but can best be seen in terms of understanding of social situations and dynamics, and ability to operate effectively in a variety of social situations. Click here for more about empathy and how it works. 

How to develop SI?

  • Expose yourself to different people different social situations
  • Work to develop your social perceptiveness
  • Improve your ability to engage others in conversation.

Social intelligence is what some refer to as “street smarts” or “everyday intelligence.”

I think daydreams are great so long as that is not all you do!
The learning that I take from this story is that although it’s wonderful to think big it is important to keep your feet in the ground. There is a very fine line between thinking big and over reaching yourself to your own destruction. In our thoughts we can take giant steps, we can leap over mountains and reach the next level. In reality we must put one foot in front of the other to move forward otherwise we will trip up and fall. The young monk was unable to divorce reality from fantasy so he comes a cropper. 
Was it wrong for him to daydream? No it wasn’t! 
So I would like you to ask yourselves what could he have done differently for a happier outcome?


  • VN Bakshi

    In my opinion day dreaming is a great thing it give us a positive vibes to do hard work to full fill it or give us a mentally satisfaction in the way of imagination And I think the young monk choose the second option i.e. mentally satisfaction. May be he kick the pot deliberately and broke it so he can enjoy the power of imagination each and every time of his life instead of doing more and more and more hard work to full fill it and make his dreams more stronger than the previous one. E.g after some days he dreamt he became a great monk who gives food to everyone from his majical flour pot.


  • Ramya

    I have recently seen a video of your’s on TED Talk. ‘The art of seduction’. At first sight I was like, isn’t the topic too bold? But when as I watched it, I realized how beautifully have you put it in words. And that led me to subscribe to your channel and I have finally ended up here. It’s a woww experience for me. I’m loving it. ^_^

  • Jyothi Krishnamoorthy

    The change he could have created is like this…. He dreamt that she would bear him sons and daughters… He also dreamt how he would sit with her reading her the ancient scriptures on how to educate and bring up children. He imagined how he would give her a lending hand in making harmony in the making of a home – While she would cook, make the home, he would engage and teach the children. When she was free to look after the children, he would take to reading his works.
    He also dreamt how he would make time to impart the knowledge that he was acquiring to his children while they are young itself….
    In this process, he showed his children how one lesson taught should be carefully bundled and kept aside for future use and how a new clean chapter should be opened for new lessons…. While doing this, he bundled the flour in the pot into small packets and kept them aside and cleared the pot for more savings.
    The monk was suddenly awakened by his fellowmen who asked him to engage them in some activity. Drawing on his day dreams, he promptly made all of them make small packets of the flour. He kept them on the window sill with a note “For sale”
    the rest of the story progressed as per his dreams….

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