A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
—Grantland Rice, American, Sportswriter
It is worth reaffirming that opinions are about the cheapest things in the world and everybody has got a good deal of them. As a matter of fact, it is always wise to get honest opinions from a few stakeholders, but it is wiser to know when to move on. If somebody will have to get everybody’s opinion, he or she will end up doing nothing — because nobody gets nothing done by listening to everybody’s opinion.
A sage once told me a story that evinces this. Here it is as I was told.
Once upon a time in the land of Laos, there lived a wealthy old merchant who had only one son. Together they set out on a journey to sell an old donkey in the biggest market in the region. This market was a few miles away from where they lived, so they woke up in the morning and embarked on their journey. They went on, pulling the donkey to be sold behind them with the mark “DONKEY FOR SALE”.
As they progressed, they passed through some grasslands with fresh pastures, and so the Father decided to feed the donkey. While the donkey ate grass, the people passing by walked up to the man each and asked, “Why feed the donkey, if you would be selling it? You’d better move on and go sell it to the prospective buyer”.
The old merchant nodded, “How true! We must hasten on to the market.”
The merchant and his son continued pulling the donkey on their way; and not too long they came across a company of friends who stopped them and saqid to them, “You father and son, you walk on foot like fools while your donkey goes empty with no burdens!”
“What a wise thought!” the Father said and mounted the donkey with his son; and so, they continued their journey riding on the donkey.
Father and son enjoyed the ride for a time while they headed for a bridge preceding the cattle market; and after having journeyed for less than a mile, they met some people coming back from the market. “What a wicked merchant this is!” they wondered.”You and your son riding on the poor donkey; what a huge burden you’re giving her! This donkey will likely die on the way!”
The merchant thought, “Why didn’t we think about this?” So he got down and decided to carry the Donkey with his son assisting.
As father and son journeyed on, they got to the bridge and decided to cross it that way. And while they did so, the donkey slipped and fell over the bridge into the river. The man’s son shouted, “Alas Father, what shall we do?”
“Nothing,” his father replied. “There is nothing that can be done to please everybody. It is an expensive lesson son; deciding to please everyone is the best recipe for failure.”
The moral of the story is summed up in the words of Bill Cosby, American actor, comedian and author: I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
Value opinions; but then, remember that a great man takes responsibility for his decisions. Always.
Emmanuel Ayeni is a Life Coach, Engineer, Inspirational Writer, Speaker and Entrepreneur. He is passionate about inspiring people and organizations to greatness while helping them know more, do more and become the best of God for their lives. Emmanuel has over 10 years’ experience in working with start-up businesses and volunteering in youth-based NGOs. He is the CEO of EMMANDUS Networks, a growing company with concerns in Consulting, Technology and Logistics. Some of his inspirational works have been published at http://emmanuelayeni.com/ and since 2009.
Emmanuel is a friend of Jesus and currently works and lives in Lagos, Nigeria.