The Camel Fable – a Way of Resolving Dilemmas


The 18th Camel!

A man on his deathbed specifies that his first son should receive half his camels, his second son a third of his camels and his third son a ninth of his camels. Nice and clear.

His camels are collected up and there are 17 camels. Herein lies the dilemma. The father’s wishes cannot be met. The camels cannot be divided properly.

The sons knew that they could argue or fight about it but instead they went to the wise woman for advice. She considered the situation and said ‘Take one of my camels!’

So with the 18 camels, the first son now receives nine camels and the second son six camels and the third son two camels. And they had one camel left over which they returned to the wise woman.

Can you explain how this works? Why couldn’t this have been done at the outset?

Some potential learning from this tale:

  1. Sometimes we need to step back from a dilemma to find the eighteenth camel!
  2. Sometimes there is a need for external mediators or consultants to help us find the 18th camel.
  3. Consultants – what can you do to help your clients find the 18th camel?
This entry was posted in Coaching and Training, Leadership and Management, Managing Change and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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