Discover the Billion-Dollar Hybrid Courses Opportunity

Join this free bootcamp and get set for hybrid course success in less than a week!

Eating the Sky Transcript

Once Upon a Business – Episode 77

Eating the Sky

Lisa Bloom: There was a time when no one who lived on Earth had to work because the sky provided everything. If the people were hungry, they had only to reach up and they received exactly what they needed. Sometimes, however, people would break off more than they could chew from the sky. And what they didn’t want, they cast aside.

Hi, I’m Lisa Bloom, the Story Coach, and you’re listening to Once Upon a Business. In each episode, we explore a story, a fairy tale, folk tale, or traditional story, so that we can discover the amazing lessons relevant for business and for entrepreneurs.

It was easy for the people to cast away what they didn’t want, but the sky didn’t like seeing itself treated like rubbish. One day, the sky spoke out. People, if you go on wasting what I give to you, I will do something you will regret. For a while, the people remembered what the sky said, and no one took more than they really needed.

But one day, a greedy fellow, who always liked more than enough, grabbed a piece of sky big enough to feed himself, his family and his friends for weeks. He chomped and swallowed what he could, threw the rest down and walked away. The sky was silent for a while and then let out a roar and rose up and up and it went on rising. When the people saw what had happened, they came running out of their houses crying, “Come back. Please, come back.” But the sky was out of reach by then.

The next morning, the people were hungry. And the next day, hungrier still. They had to till the ground and grow some food. And that is why we all have been working ever since.

This was a story from the Benin tribe of Nigeria. As with so many of our stories, this seems simple and straightforward, and yet it is deep, and also particularly poignant, especially now in these times we’re living through. I love the way the story starts. I imagine a time when all was provided and people lived within their needs and their means. It reminds me of my childhood. I had a small allowance and only bought what I could afford. If I had enough money for sweets, I bought for myself and others. If I had none, then I waited until the next week.

The story starts with the innocence of childhood, it seems to me, before a time where we borrowed from family or friends, or from the bank to buy the house we wanted, or create the lifestyle we thought we needed. I’m not being naive, of course, we can’t live through the lens of childhood and never buy on loans or dream of a better life. But something seems to have gone wrong, where we end up running like hamsters on that spinning wheel in order to create a dream that’s long past the humble beginnings of what we thought we needed and wanted.

I see this happening in our careers and business. I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to have a great career. So I studied and got the required education degrees and all that. And then went into a job that I loved. But at a certain point, I stopped loving the job and just had my sights on the next promotion and the bigger salary.

Luckily, I was jolted out of that mindset by having children and realizing that seeing them take their first steps or say their first word was more important than the sights I had for my career, that maybe I could create something that would be more balanced and more on my terms, family first. That’s how I became an entrepreneur. I see some businesses lose sight of what they truly want to create. A lot of entrepreneurs create for themselves the job they’ve escaped from, or stop creating the business that aligns with their values. We need to keep the sky close by so we can reach for what we truly need and not lose sight of that through greed and thoughtlessness.

There’s another element of the story that’s really important about how individual behavior impacts the community and affects us all. In the story, we see how one person’s greed caused the sky to rise up so high that it would never come back. I see how sometimes an individual’s behavior can cause a whole industry to lose the trust of their potential customers. The online industry is a great example, though there are many.

When I started out and wanted to learn about how to market myself online and get clients around the world, I had a hard time finding something I could actually relate to. The so called gurus tended to be single men whose goal was to buy the big house or the fancy car. It couldn’t have been further away from my reality or my dreams. And their tactics seemed shady at best. It made it hard for me to trust anyone online or even to believe that building the business that I ultimately built was even possible.

Like the greedy fellow in the story, we look at him and it’s easy to think that he’s the outlier, the person who would do such a terrible thing, take enough to feed himself, his family, and his friend for weeks and throw most of it away. But all you need to do is watch what happens at a restaurant buffet, where people pile up food on plates they bring to their table with far more food than they could ever eat. Their eye is also too big for their stomach. But it’s not just about taking too much food, or indeed about the warning that was given to not take too much. It seems to me that right now, in this moment in time, whether it’s in our lives, in business or in politics, we haven’t been listening or remembering the warnings we have been given.

Think about the political messages we’ve heard. There’s been so much hyperbole, that I think we stopped believing that the politicians would truly follow through on their extreme promises even when those promises were based on very well documented past behavior. We didn’t quite believe that when they got into power, they would indeed follow through on their vile threats and dreadful vision. And now, the sky is so hard to reach.

And with the environment, we’ve been warned for years that this was coming, that changes needed to be made, and yet we take more than we need and leave so much to waste. Now the weather, the storms, the heat, the fires, are showing us that this was no empty threat, and yet, we still struggle to hear it and adjust our behavior. And so we end up with the sky far above our heads, beyond our reach, no longer meeting our every need. And instead, we must work.

But what the story doesn’t mention is the kind of life we can create that is a product of work, as an ethic, or a lifestyle; the meaning and fulfillment that’s gleaned from being able to create for ourselves and provide for others. The decisions we need to make, the actions we have to take, the lessons we must learn, the achievement we must earn, and the benefits to not just ourselves, but our communities when we pull together and work in an aligned and mutually beneficial way. All of this, while the constant yet ever changing sky hangs way above our heads, showing us that there is so much more that we can aspire to create and dream to become.

Perhaps this story is about becoming an adult, moving away from the dependence of childhood into the freedom and promise of self-actualized maturity. Or perhaps it’s about our work lives, moving from the dependence of job or career to the freedom and promise of entrepreneurship. Or maybe the story is about creativity, encouraging us to always reach for the sky and create the art and community we dream of. Or maybe it’s about the human spirit, and how no matter how far away the sky seems to be, we will always find ways that we can learn to fly.

I’m Lisa bloom and you’ve been listening to Once Upon a Business. You can find out more about me at story-coach com. That’s story dash coach dot com. Once upon a business is part of the Mirasee FM podcast network, which also includes such shows as Just Between Coaches and Soul Savvy Business.

To catch the great episodes that are coming up on Once Upon a Business, please like and follow us on Mirasee FM’s YouTube channel or your favorite podcast player. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a comment or a starred review. It’s the best way to help us get these ideas to more people. Thank you. We’ll see you next time.