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A group of friends were out hiking one day. We find them walking steadily upstream next to a river... towards a pub…

One of them, let’s call him Kevin, didn’t quite fit into the group. In fact, Kevin didn’t seem to fit into any group. He was a little introverted and found being in a large group a little intimidating. At parties he would rarely mingle and would mostly be found standing at the back of the room holding onto a glass firmly for support with no one to talk to, while everyone else seemed to be desperately trying to demonstrate to everyone else what a great time they were having. He knew he spoke the same language that all his friends and colleagues at work spoke but for some reason always had a strange feeling that he spoke some strange dialect that others constantly misinterpreted. This only served to increase his feelings of anxiety when communicating with others and increased his quietness and self-imposed solitude. All he knew was - he just didn’t seem to “fit” anywhere. It wasn’t that the rest of the people in the group hated Kevin per se. They just found him a little weird. Didn’t quite understand him, and tolerated him rather than loved him.

Kevin and his “friends” had been walking all day and were very tired, but the thought of relaxing with a heap of some excellent Ham and Cheese sandwiches and lashings of Ginger Beer filled their very souls and drove them on. As they walked down the river bank they began to see children being swept down-stream, coughing and spluttering. The river was wide and fast flowing and impossible to cross. Some of the friends jumped into the river to save them, the others started using sticks, building rafts or throwing in tree vines in desperate attempts to save them. Panic broke out, closely followed by arguments.

The people in the river shouted at the people building the raft,

“Hey you idiots building a raft - you’re wasting time. If you jumped in the river and helped us we would save more children”

The people building the raft shouted at the people in the river,

“Hey you idiots in the river - you’re wasting time. If you helped us build the raft it would be completed quicker, we would be able to save more children overall”

Every now and then the people in the river could save a child but many were washed away downstream never to be seen again and as more and more children came down the river, the arguments got louder and louder.

As they shouted and panicked and honestly tried their best, they suddenly noticed that Kevin had walked away - upstream towards the pub - and was not helping at all! They were astonished and now having a common enemy to complain about joined their voices in shouting their derision.

“Where the hell are you going - get back here you idiot and help us, how selfish can you be????”

But Kevin could no longer hear them and continued to walk upstream towards the pub.

As time passed, they finally got the last of the children out of the river and, lying soaked and exhausted on the bank, they began crying.

The people who had been in the river said,

“Oh how terrible - the many children we did not save. If only the people building the raft would have helped us in the river”

The people who had been building the raft said,

 “Oh how terrible - the many children we did not save. If only the people in the river would have helped us building the raft”

But soon their melancholy turned to disbelief and then swiftly to anger as they saw Kevin walking back down the river towards them. Smiling! Their disbelief from the fact that he had the audacity to come back, and their anger from the fact that he was carrying an armful of sandwiches and a flagon of Ginger Beer!

With their renewed rage reaching incandescent levels, they began to shout,

“Where the hell did you go! Are you mental! Why the hell did you go and get sandwiches you idiot”

 “You left us here alone trying to stop the children from drowning!! Are you stupid!!!”.

As Kevin approached his heart sank, and not for the first time in his life, felt like a bowl of Petunias.

“Oh no! Not again!”

Yet again, a large group of people were angry with him and worst of all he had no idea why. This happened a lot to Kevin. Many people seemed to hate him, even loath him. He thought he was a good person, tried to always do the right thing like his Mother had taught him, but nevertheless, it always seemed to Kevin that he was the butt of people’s hostility with monotonous regularity. It was his cross to bear.

As he drew nearer the jeering reached a crescendo as they all shouted in unison,

“What the hell have you been doing you idiot?”

Kevin replied

“Preventing children from falling in the river. Anyone fancy a sandwich?”

Are you always jumping in the river?

Are you consumed with building rafts?

Or are you going to get some sandwiches and Ginger Beer?

Kevin Smith

The Pragmatic Lifeguard.

 

How many people in your Enterprise are saving drowning children?

How many people in your Enterprise are preventing children falling in the river?

Should your Enterprise devote more resources towards preventing children falling in the river?

 

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