Welcome to the third edition of Fable Friday! Today, we’ll take a look at the 1943 French classic The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. In this novella, a narrator describes the differences between adults and grown ups. The narrator then grows up to be a pilot, and his plane crashes in the Sahara. As he tries to fix his plane, he meets the little prince, who comes from planet B612. He tells the narrator about his travels to different planets, including Earth. This is a delightful book that can be enjoyed by kids and adults; I’m sure if you reread it now you’ll notice themes that you missed when you were little. Just like the prince traveled, let’s travel to three themes that are applicable in your life and in your firm.
It’s all about perspective
The narrator makes an illustration when he is six years old that he thinks adults will find frightening. To his dismay, they don’t. “What’s scary about a hat?” they say. However, the narrator doesn’t draw a hat; instead, he draws a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. When he meets the little prince, unlike the adults who don’t understand his drawing, the little prince quickly sees the boa and elephant. The little prince also asks the narrator to draw a sheep. He tries several times without success, until he draws a box with three holes. The little prince is delighted - the sheep is inside this box.
This book is all about perspective and how children view the world differently from adults. Children have imagination that many adults grow out of. It’s children, such as the little prince, who can use their imagination to see beauty in seemingly dull drawings, find wells in a desert, and see laughter among stars. While you may not be drawing sheep for your clients, it’s important for you to be able to see events from different perspectives. For instance, you might be used to seeing a case from an attorney’s perspective, but that’s not how your clients see it. To them, their case is something unique, and not just a case number in your CRM. By viewing the case from their perspective, you’ll be able to be more empathetic and understanding towards your clients.
Plus, by thinking outside of the box (or inside the creative box, in this situation) you can frequently come up with solutions that you don’t see right away. The narrator thinks that he can only get out of the desert by fixing his plane. However, he discovers that by working on the plane, listening to the prince, and seeing with the heart instead of the eyes, a well can appear and the plane can be fixed. Likewise, by viewing your work from different angles and focusing on aspects that may appear unimportant, you’ll be more likely to come up with great solutions.
Take care of your baobabs
The little prince describes his daily routine on his planet. He must pick out the unwanted seeds of baobab trees. If he’s unable to root them when they’re little, the baobabs quickly take over the tiny planet.
The lesson here is quite simple - take care of an issue before it becomes catastrophic. Work on your tasks a little each day so that they don’t grow into a giant baobab that you’ll have difficulty tackling. Likewise, people have their strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps you’re great at speaking with claimants, but not as good about keeping track of your lead results. Instead of waiting for the lack of lead results to grow into a giant baobab, try to update a few lead results each day. Different softwares can ease the pain of updating results, such as eLuminate! Slowly, but surely, you’ll become more comfortable with this task, and this will help your firm succeed in the long run.
Don’t turn into one of the adults from the other six planets
The little prince visits six tiny planets and one irrational adult inhabits each planet. For instance, one planet has a king who issues orders to no one. Since he has no subjects, he commands the sun to set. Another planet has a narcissistic man who wants praise for being the most admirable person on his planet, even though no one else lives on this planet. A third planet has a businessman who is only concerned about counting and categorizing stars that he owns.
Each adult is narrow-minded, and such narrow-mindedness could be a downfall at your firm. If you’re overly concerned about establishing authority over your paralegals, your paralegals will lose respect for you and will likely perform worse. If you also create tasks for your paralegals just for the sake of establishing your credibility, your paralegals will have time taken away from actually important tasks. If you get caught up in just the numbers of your business, you will miss that each case involves real people.
The Little Prince covers many themes including friendship, loss, loneliness, and beauty. Consider rereading it so you can have some thoughtful discussions, along with considerations for how to run your firm. Take care of your firm just like the little prince takes care of the rose on his planet and the fox he meets on Earth!