Pitfalls & Windfalls

The subject of leadership is complex. Fortunately, the insights reside in simple stories.

There was once a man who decided to counsel his lazy son through an illustration. One fine morning, he declared that he was going to bring food to the table only if his son earns Rs 200/-. The mother felt bad for her son and silently sneaked him the money and said: “Give this to your dad when you return in the evening.” In the evening, the son gave his Dad the money. The Dad looked at his son and realized that he had not worked for his money. “Throw that away in the trash!” He fumed.

The next day, when his wife was out running errands, the man kicked his son out of the house telling him not to bother coming home unless he earned Rs 200/-. Now, the lazy son had no option but to work somewhere and earn his money, which he did. When he returned home, the man instructed him to trash it. The son refused vehemently and kept the money since it was hard earned!

The father smiled; he had played an instrumental role in helping his son come of age. Lesson? Effective leaders continuously counsel their teams!

The father, now pleased with his teenage son, took him to a bar and said “Son, since you have exhibited the responsibilities of a grownup, it’s time you get to know about alcohol. Drink whatever you want. Ask me if you want to know anything.” The father then started gulping shot after shot, chatting and laughing out loudly with his friends.

The boy sat puzzled. He looked around; everyone was so happy. He went to his dad, “Dad, if I start to drink and be as happy as all these people, how do I get to know when I should stop drinking?” His Dad pointed to a table and counseled, “Do you see those four people drinking over there? The moment they appear to you as eight, you should stop drinking.” “But Dad, there are only two people on that table”, the son observed with a smile—he had just learnt the perils of undisciplined drinking.

The father was embarrassed; he realized he had undone his earlier accomplishment. Lesson? Those who counsel nonstop make for ineffective leaders!

Same father; reverse takeaways. Why? That’s because these stories were not about the father, but the son—of his ability to learn both ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ from his father! The lessons were not about the pitfalls of constant counseling, rather the windfalls of constant learning. You see, the future belongs to learners, not leaders. Those who learn nonstop, for them, leadership is merely a byproduct…

Learn, Adapted, Attitude, Style


  1. Worth reading Sir. We always learn and acquire the vision to explore the unexplored around us through your articles.
    While reading this I remembered the statement by John F. Kennedy ….
    “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.

    Also it helped me to relate with extract of book which recently I was reading “Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win”.

  2. As always… Worth reading. I am really very happy that now we are getting notified through Facebook else was missing cybagetimes

  3. Nice one!

  4. Nice one Arun

  5. Superb article! Loved the title “Pitfalls & Windfalls”

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Pitfalls & Windfalls - Arun Nathani Blog