The Lion & the Mouse — Always err on the side of Kindness

Life Lesson from Aesop Fable

You don’t know what you don’t know. We don’t know what we don’t know. How is that for an obvious statement? Yet, all of us have powerful filters and powerful imaginations. We assume we understand why someone is acting a certain way, and we assume we can assess an event and truly know the appropriate response. That often is not the case.

What do I mean by “filter” and what do I mean by the fact we have “powerful imaginations”? Well, we like to think that when there is an event (let’s say your leader looks angry as she storms down the hall ), the event happens, and we respond, which causes the outcome. 

In this thought process, there is a step that is missed — our filter. Namely, the event happens and then we analyze it. We analyze it based on our core belief system. We analyze it based on our quirky hangups. We analyze it through our personal hangups and world view. 

Once an event is being analyzed through our inherently flawed filters, we let our imaginations go crazy. We start convincing ourselves of a story of why your leader is mad or what the “event” means, and we start — consciously or subconsciously — determining how we are going to react. For example, we start to put our guard-up and get ready for a fight, or we go distant and try to ignore the pending storm completely. 

Why? We don’t truly know all of the facts, and the quicker we realize that fact, the better outcomes we can facilitate. If we just pause and acknowledge we don’t truly understand what is going on, and we choose to show up a certain way, we can foster better outcomes. For example, if we admit to ourselves we don’t know why our leader is angry, and choose to be open minded and lean into collaborating toward a solution, we might be able to positively impact the outcome (or, at the very least, ensure we are controlling what we can control and not just reacting).

This brings me to another Aesop fable I love — the Lion and the Mouse:

Original illustration by Colin Darke

Eric was a little mouse that loved to dance, and he was a risk taker. One day, he saw Larry the Lion sleeping, so Eric began to dance around Larry. He even danced up and down his back at one point. 

Larry woke up and grabbed Eric, and then he slowly began to lower Eric into his mouth.

Eric began talking a mile a minute, “Oh great king of the plains, please have mercy on me. If you let me go just this one time I will return the favor if you ever need help from me.” Larry laughed and laughed at the idea of a little mouse helping the King of the plains, he then said,“okay, for making me laugh so hard, I will let you go … just in case sometime I might need a favor from little old you.”

Some time passed, and Larry was captured by some hunters. They tied him to a tree, so that they could kill him later in the evening. The hunters had to go back to their camp for more ammo. The Lion knew what was going to happen and started crying. 

Eric heard Larry crying, and immediately ran to his rescue. Eric was then able to gnaw through the rope enough so that Larry was able to free himself.

Moral: Always err on the side of kindness 

Again, this is a great story for children and adults alike: Be kind. You don’t know what you don’t know, so choose how you are going to show-up and you might be able to influence the outcome in a positive and unexpected way.

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