As a child I enjoyed reading Aesop's Fables, and now as a mother, I enjoy reading and discussing them with my children. I found the stories richly illuminating, instructive - as well as entertaining, and they have resonated with me ever since; shaping my moral code and character alike.
During these current school summer holidays, my almost-eight-year-old son read The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs, which brought on quite a deep discussion about the moral of the story. The moral as cited by Aesop himself is: "Those who have plenty want more and so lose all they have". It's a tale warning against the perils of greed and avarice, but once my son had gone to bed, the story continued to swim around in my mind, and I found another moral in the story.
LET THE METAPHORS BEGIN!
Metaphorically speaking, you are the goose. You are the producer of whatever it is you produce, whether you're the CEO of a multinational conglomerate, a small business entrepreneur, the nurturing head of a household doing the washing up and school runs, someone bringing home the bacon from paid employment - or anything else in between - you make it happen and you're the producer.
Now your eggs (in this metaphor) are whatever it is you actually produce; be it squizillions on the stock market, happy and healthy children, new jobs in your local economy or a higher degree of dental hygiene awareness in the community. Whatever you are responsible for creating in this world, is represented by these metaphorical eggs - and they're golden! We all need what you are contributing. Everyone is valuable. We are all a gift to our shared global society. We all make the world go round. It's not just the billionaires who bluff and bluster loudest that are the most valuable you know, but don't get me started on you know who, we'll be here all day!
So, where was I? Oh yes, you're a goose and your eggs are golden. [I bet you didn't ever imagine hearing that sentence in your lifetime, did you?] Now the additional moral of the fable I had swimming around in my mind, revolves around the symbiotic relationship between the goose and the eggs: the producer and the produced. They must be viewed together, holistically, as one, as they are interdependent upon each other. Let me explain.
In the fable, all Attacus Greeb had to do was to feed and nurture the goose, so that it continued to lay the golden eggs, and keep him in the manner to which he had recently become accustomed. Simply put, you must nurture yourself - your entire self, holistically - to maintain your production and output. It's counterproductive and counterintuitive to survive on minimal sleep, and a questionable or limited lifestyle, in the name of expediency and output.
If Attacus Greeb had focused only on the golden eggs produced (which he ultimately did of course), had no regard for how they were being produced, and i.e.: chose to scrimp on the feeding of the goose, or failed to keep it happy and healthy, then the goose's golden egg production would have ground to a grinding, enforced halt. Well, this applies to you too. If you i.e.: burn the candle at both ends, make unhealthy fitness or diet choices and engage in otherwise risky and unwise behaviours that disturb your physical, emotional or financial well being, then this will have a negative impact on your production.
THE HEALTHIEST SOLUTION
The healthiest solution is to see yourself and what you produce as two halves of the whole, and both halves deserve equal recognition and care. There cannot be one without the other; symbiosis. You want to produce as much as you need for as long as you can, and that's fine. You will however need to care for and maintain the producer; which is you. You need what you produce, whilst the produced needs you to produce it. Keep your eye on the whole, the big picture. By neglecting yourself, your production will be neglected and eventually killed - like the goose.
The fable goes on to explain how the interminably short sighted Attacus Greeb couldn't wait for his daily gift of a single golden egg, regardless of how wealthy his previous golden eggs had made him. Filled with avarice and uncontrollable greed, Attacus Greeb cut open the goose, so he could have all his eggs at once. Of course, once the goose was dead, there were no further golden eggs. Similarly, if you go all out, completely "lock on" to gain all that you can from the outer limits of what is possible, and with no regard for the consequences, you too will murder your eventual output. Remember; those who have plenty want more and so lose all they have.
At the risk of mixing my metaphors, imagine getting the keys for your ultimate car, with all the whizz bang gadgets and gizmos your heart desires. Then you are filled with a burning desire to drive - at optimum output - from one end of the country to the other. The only condition to being given the car was this: you must begin your journey and not stop until you get there, and you must not refuel the car or maintain it in any way - no oil top ups, no windscreen washer refills, no servicing of any kind. How safe would you be on that journey? How likely would getting to your destination be, without rest, recuperation, preventative maintenance or fuel? It's all about moderation, balance, patience and perseverance.
Whatever you are producing, consider it a marathon, rather than a sprint. You're in this for the long haul, so why not optimise the longevity of your production with safe, sound and prudent care? Deny the little devil sitting on your shoulder, urging you to grab for the quick fix, the short cut or the get rich quick scheme. This short-termism is puddle deep at best and won't sustain you for long. Better to nurture what you are creating and wait for the results to avail themselves to you when the time is right. You cannot create a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant. Some things just take time!
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