Discover the Billion-Dollar Hybrid Courses Opportunity

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

The Fox and the Horse (Transcript)

Once Upon a Business – Episode 80

The Fox and the Horse

Lisa Bloom: A peasant once had a faithful horse, but he had grown old and could no longer work. His master grudged him his food and said, I can’t use you anymore, but I still feel kindly towards you. And if you show yourself strong enough to bring me a lion, I will keep you to the end of your days, but away with you now, out of my stable. And he drove the animal out into the open country.

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.

The poor horse was very sad and went into the forest to get a little shelter from the wind and weather. There he met a fox who said, why do you hang your head and wander about in this solitary fashion? Alas, answered the horse, avarice and honesty cannot abide together. My master has forgotten all the service I have done him over the many years, and because I can no longer plow, he will no longer feed me. He has driven me away.

Without any consideration? Asked the fox. Only the poor consolation of telling me that if I was strong enough to bring him a lion, he would keep me. But he knows well enough that the task is beyond me. The fox said, but I’ll help you. Just lie down here and stretch your legs out as if you were dead. The horse did as he was told, and the fox went to the lion’s den, not far off, and said, there’s a dead horse out there. Come along with me and you’ll have a rare meal.

The lion went with him, and when they got to the horse, the fox, you can’t eat it in comfort. Here, I’ll tell you what. Ill tie the carcass to you, and you can drag it away to your den and enjoy it at your leisure. The plan pleased the lion, and he stood quite still close to the horse so that the fox could fasten them together. But the fox tied the lion’s legs together with the horse’s tail and twisted and knotted it so that it was quite impossible for it to come undone. When he had finished his work, he patted the horse on the shoulder and said, pull, old grey, pull.

Then the horse sprang up and dragged the lion away behind him. The lion, in his rage, roared so that all the birds in the forest were terrified and flew away. But the horse let him roar and never stopped till he stood before his master’s door. When the master saw him, he was delighted and said, you shall stay with me and have a good time as long as you live. And he fed him well till he died.

This was a tale by the brothers Grimm. So I find this story really challenging and it took me a while to realize why. It reminds me of my experience trying to watch Breaking Bad. Now you’re probably in one of two camps. Either you never watched it and have no interest, or you loved the series and watched it several times and you still think it’s the best thing ever made. Well, I tried to watch it a few times and while I appreciated the incredible acting, the great production and the fascinating storyline, I just couldn’t watch it and it took me a while to figure out why.

You see, I finally realized that it’s really hard for me to connect to characters who have almost no redeeming qualities. Everyone in that series seems to be bad, and I mean really bad. And as for this story, it’s kind of similar. The peasant is just a really nasty person who, as the story says, grudged his faithful horse food just because he had grown old. Then, as a sign of what he calls feeling kindly towards the horse, sets him an impossible task to catch a lion that’s just so mean and horrible.

And then there’s the fox, who is characterized by trickery, though I guess it is in favor of the poor old horse, a sad figure who races back to his cruel owner once he has caught the lion. And I wonder why the lion fell for the fox’s trick unless he’s ruled by hunger and greed and is hypnotized by the vision of a dead horse to feed on. So as you can see, a troupe of disappointing characters who all seem to be motivated by their own needs and fairly oblivious to anyone else.

If I think of this in a work context, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t believe that when people work from a place of greed, self-indulgence, trickery and meanness that anything good can come out of it. And yet I’ve seen the contrary. I had a colleague years ago who seemed to do everything in her power to progress her own career while trampling on everyone else in her path. She was completely focused on getting to the next level of management and worked diligently to disempower her team and her colleagues while trying to impress the people she reported to. The problem was it worked. She was successful in getting the results the company desired, even though she left a trail of the dead and injured, metaphorically, behind her and she was promoted.

I think this was another reason for me to start thinking about leaving the corporate world and getting into business. I believe that being kind matters, that doing right by others and making a difference is important. And I’ve seen evidence of this, too. I’ve worked with so many entrepreneurs and business owners over the years who are passionate about serving others, about making the world a better place, and they’ve been successful in doing just that.

And yet, back to the story, the horse returns to his master, who is delighted and fed him well until he died. I hate this ending. Like it justifies the way he had demanded the horse to do this impossible deed. Well yes, at least he kept his word. But it’s all just so conditional. What about being a good person unconditionally? Feeding your horse because that’s the right thing to do because he has served you well and we all grow old and need someone to take care of us at some stage.

I think we need to behave ethically and in alignment with our values, not just when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard. When doing the right thing takes extra effort and costs us time and money. When helping others is not exactly what we feel like doing, or when we’re in a rush or struggling ourselves with our own challenges.

I have a good friend who has had to single parent without any support for years. She’s worked three jobs most of her adult life in order to provide for herself and her kids. And yet there’s never a time when she doesn’t volunteer and help others. She’s such a beacon of goodness and great values. I so admire her. It’s not about what she can afford in either time or money, it’s about the goodness of her heart. Now that’s a lesson we can all learn and it’s a story that’s worth telling.

I’m Lisa Bloom and you’ve been listening to Once Upon a Business. You can find out more about me at 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 Course Lab and Just Between Coaches. 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.