October 21, 2016 4 Comments
In today’s Fable Friday I’ll take you back to late 19th century India and the growth of Mowgli, as told by Rudyard Kipling in “The Jungle Book.”
But first a few words of background on Kipling. He was born in 1865 in Bombay in 1865 where his father was principal of an art school. The family remained in Bombay until 1871 when they returned to England, stayed just six months, then returned to Bombay, leaving the six year old Rudyard and his younger sister to board with a family in Southsea. During the five years in this foster home he was bullied and physically mistreated, an experience that left him with deep psychological scars and a sense of betrayal.
As a result of these early years and similar unfortunate experiences, he became an avid reader and lover of literature, and much of his later writing contained themes of loyalty, respect, honesty, fairness and kindness.
Kipling married an American woman when he was thirty, and the couple moved to Vermont, living there for seven years. He was by this time a well-known and successful writer and when the couple started a family, he saw that there wasn’t much in the way of good literature for young people to learn values, so he began to write them. “Kim” and the two Jungle Books were written during this period.
Back to our story about Mowgli and the wolves in “The Jungle Book.” Kipling has the animals in the story speak in rhyme, while the humans speak in prose. The wolves try to teach the young Mowgli the “laws” of the jungle, a metaphor for the way one should lead an honest life. One of the most famous of these instructions is this beautiful instructive piece from the Law of the Wolves:
Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
For many years this piece has been quoted by coaches and other team leaders. Phil Jackson used to read it to his L.A. Lakers to get them to play better as a team. Here in Texas where I live, the local high school cross-country team uses it to remind themselves that they score better when they run as a pack.
If you are a sales manager, take a look at your own sales team. Do they always think this way? For example, do they make an effort to include product partners on calls? Do they share information and ideas with underwriters and analysts so the best possible service may be delivered to the client? Is there jealousy or envy regarding who gets assigned to what customer groups, or who gets the best projects? A pack of wolves working together can bring down a foe much larger than itself, and from time to time your team can use an eloquent reminder of what you expect from them.
Here’s my idea for you today. Have someone read this quote at your next sales meeting, then ask, “What do you think we as a sales team can learn from this? What is Kipling trying to tell us about how we work and how we should work?” Then develop the discussion until you come out of the meeting with a commitment to change.
Think Like Your Customer!