There were three businessmen walking down a long and winding road. No-one knew how all three came to be on the road at the same time, but there they were.
Their names were Safe, Potential and Already There.
Safe (as his name suggests) was happy to be wherever there was room for him. He followed the coat tails of Potential and Already There and often stopped to admire the view, then run to catch up with his two friends later, out of breath and giddy just for being around others.
Potential was a strange one. He always seemed intense and was forever taking notes of his surroundings, and testing new directions out to see if there were other areas the road might lead. Safe wasn’t too keen on Potential – he just seemed too erratic.
Already There didn’t care for either of his traveling colleagues – he accepted that sometimes you have to put up with company, but that was a bearable annoyance when you knew where you were and now you were just enjoying the surroundings.
A Fellow Traveler
As they walked along the road, they came across another traveler, whose name turned out to be Innovation.
He looked tired and worn out, and as the three travelers approached Innovation, Already There took command (being the most senior). “Hello, there – you look troubled. What ails you?”
Innovation looked at the three and replied, “I’m tired. For many years, I’ve traveled various roads and met some amazing people. But now I feel my traveling is coming to an end, and it’s time for me to retire. The world is a different place from when I was in it a lot.”
The three travelers looked at Innovation, and each took a turn to answer.
Safe was first. “It’s probably a good idea. I’m sure you’ve had some great adventures along the way, but from the looks of you, you wouldn’t last another day without dropping from exhaustion. Take your rest and be happy for what you’ve achieved.”
Already There spoke next. “I don’t know why you’re upset. The world is a wonderful place when you sit back and enjoy it. I found my happy place a long time ago, and look how content I am. Come, let me show you my home and you can relax there and watch the world go by.”
Old is New
Potential was the last to speak. He looked at both Safe and Already There, then back to Innovation, and smiled. “These two men speak wise words. The world is a wonderful place to sit back and enjoy. But how long would that last?
“Without new ideas, we’d soon become bored. Without challenges, we’d soon become lazy. Without breaking molds, everything would look the same. We’d be traveling on roads with people we are either leaving behind or about to overtake, as opposed to walking together on paths to ideas.
“I’m not sure where I’m headed; I know it won’t be a Safe journey and I sure as heck am nowhere near Already There when it comes to where I want to be. But then that’s probably why I’m called Potential,” he finished with a wink.
Innovation looked at all three and smiled a smile that lit up his face in a way that at least two of the three travelers wouldn’t have thought possible when they first saw him.
“Potential,” he said, “you remind me of me when I was younger. You’re right – Innovation isn’t Safe. Innovation isn’t accepting what’s Already There. Innovation is about taking the Safe and Already There and seeking its Potential for improvement. Maybe the world isn’t ready to see the end of Innovation just yet.”
And with that, he joined Potential and they continued walking and laughing, leaving Safe and Already There behind, shaking their heads and thinking there sure are some strange people in the world today.
Then again, isn’t everything strange until its Potential has been unlocked..?
This is a chapter from my Parables of Business ebook, helping businesses understand how old wisdom can help shape new mindsets. You can learn more about the book, and grab your own copy, here for just $0.99.