There is a story of a man who left seventeen camels to his three sons. He left half the camels to his eldest son, a third to his middle son and a ninth to his youngest. The three set to dividing their inheritance but soon despaired of their ability to negotiate a solution—because seventeen could not be divided by two, three or nine.
The sons approached a wise old woman. After pondering the problem, the old woman said, “See what happens if you take my camel.” So then the sons had eighteen camels. The eldest son took his half—that was nine. The middle soon took his third—that was six. And the youngest son took his ninth—that was two. Nine and six and two made seventeen. They had one camel left over and gave it back to the wise old woman.
Like the seventeen camels, your negotiations will often seem intractable. Like the wise old woman, you will need to step back from the negotiation, look at the problem from a fresh angle and find an eighteenth camel!
There was once an old couple who lived in a dilapidated thatched hut on a remote pacific island. One day a hurricane blew through the village demolishing their home. Since they were much too poor and old to rebuild the hut the couple moved in with their daughter and her husband. This arrangement precipitated an unpleasant domestic situation.
As the daughter’s hut was barely big enough for her, her husband and their four children, let alone the inlaws, the daughter went to the wise person in the village and asked “whatever will we do”. The wise person puffed slowly on a pipe and then responded: “You have chickens, don’t you?” “Yes” she replied. “We have 10 chickens”
“Then bring the chickens into the hut with you”
This seemed ludicrous to the daughter but she followed the wise person’s advice. The move naturally exacerbated the problem and the place was soon unbearable as feathers and hostile words flew around the hut. The daughter returned to the wise person, pleading again for advice. “You have pigs, do you not?”
“Yes we have three pigs”. You must bring your pigs into the hut with you as well, said the wise person. That seemed to be ridiculous advice but to question the wise person was unthinkable, so she brought the pigs into the hut.
Life was now truly unlivable with eight people, ten chicken and three pigs sharing one tiny noisy hut! The next day the daughter approached the wise person with a final desperate plea. “Please she cried, we cannot live like this. Tell me what to do but please help us.” This time the wise person’s response was puzzling but easier to follow.
“Now remove your chickens and the pigs from the hut.” She quickly evicted the animals and the entire family lived happily together for the rest of their days!