The leadership lesson of the fish with no tail
Yesterday I had a nice conversation with a friend. We were talking about change and why it often is so difficult to achieve it.
People often want change, but make less effort of changing themselves or they are just so used to doing things a certain way because that is what they have been doing for years. It is being passed on for generations and no one ever questions why things are the way they are.
He and I both are people that want to know the why behind things. Why is something the way it is and is that still the way to do it in this day and age? Not everyone is as conscious about traditions and customs though.
He told me a nice metaphorical story he once heard.
The fish with no tail
One day a young man’s mother came to visit. Together they were making dinner. He had cleaned and spiced a whole fresh fish. Just before he wanted to put the fish in the pan to fry it, his mother told him to chop off the tail first.
He asked her; mom why do I have to chop the tail off? What is the purpose? Her answer was, that is how it is supposed to be, so just do it son. He kept on asking about the purpose of the cut tail and a bit irritated his mother said; son, this is how my mother thought me to do it and that is how it’s supposed to be so just do it. If you want to know why, you will have to ask your grandmother.
Curious about the why, the young man went to see his grandmother the next day. He told her what happened the night before and asked her about the reason of the fish with no tail. His grandmother said; child, that is how it is supposed to be. My mother thought me so, that is how I do it and what I thought your mother to do. If you want to know why, go ask you great grandmother.
The young man, always curious about the why of things, went to his great grandmother to find out what is behind the tradition of the fish with no tail. He asked his great grandmother the same question as he did a few days before to his mother and grandmother. He asked her, Nana, what is the reason of this tradition? Why do we have to chop the tail of the fish before frying it? His Nana answered; well child, now that you ask and I think of it. In my time the frying pans weren’t that big, so the fish did not fit in and that is why we cut the tails of.
Customs & tradition
Traditions, customs and believes have originated from somewhere. It is therefor important to always try to discover the why behind that custom, tradition or believe.
Especially in countries with an oral tradition and a strong sense of family traditions and respect for what the elders say and teach you it takes guts to question these traditions and ways of doing things. Keeping old customs and believes alive though does not alway fit in modern times anymore.
Holding on to old standards, rules, views and laws can hold back progress, growth and change. They are not helping countries and communities to step fully into modern age and develop their full potential.
My friend and I live in Suriname, South America. A country that, as a lot of Caribbean countries had great potential. Change is necessary to bring the country forward. If we keep holding on to old views, traditions, customs, laws and believes without knowing where they originate from, we will not move forward as fast as we could. It is important that we look at our current standards in several areas to see if they still fully apply to modern times and contexts and adjust them if they don’t anymore.
Leadership for change
Leadership in 1 day is an inspiring leadership event that will be held in Paramaribo, Suriname on may 10th. Inspiring leaders from Surinam, USA and Trinidad & Tobago will share their knowledge, views and expertise with business and political leaders from the Caribbean on how they can create a leadership mind shift. A mind shift within themselves, their companies and countries policy in order to establish a modern change in the Caribbean region to make it a stronger, better, financially stable one.
Adjusting to the current spirit of times is important. It asks for flexibility, insight and leadership.
From now on we eat fish with tail!