Do the Math
INSPIRATIONAL, 5 Nov 2018
A father left 17 camels as inheritance for his three sons. When he passed away, his sons read the will.
The will stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 camels; the middle son should be given 1/3rd, and the youngest son 1/9th of the 17 camels.
As it is not possible to divide 17 by half, by 3, or by 9, the sons started fighting and arguing with each other. They decided to consult a wise man.
The wise man listened patiently about the will. After giving it a thought, he added one camel of his own to the other 17. That increased the total to 18 camels. And he proceeded to fulfill the deceased father’s will as such:
Half of 18 = 9. Therefore, he gave 9 camels to the eldest son.
1/3rd of 18 = 6. So, he gave 6 camels to the middle son.
1/9th of 18 = 2. He gave 2 camels to the youngest son.
Now add this up: 9 + 6 + 2 = 17, leaving 1 camel out, which the wise man took back.
MORAL: The trick for negotiation or problem solving is to find the 18th camel, i.e., the common ground, transcending solution. Once a person finds it, the issue is resolved. To reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we will not be able to reach one.
Robin Edward Poulton, Ph.D. is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and has been a consultant-advisor to the UN, EU and numerous governments. He is a sometime faculty member of the European Peace University (Austria) and Virginia Commonwealth University (USA), and Senior Fellow of UNIDIR Geneva (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research). He is Managing Partner of EPES Mandala Consulting. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 5 Nov 2018.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Do the Math, is included. Thank you.
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