An Emperor's New Clothes Situation
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An Emperor\'s New Clothes Situation

One of the ways to get an insight into human behavior is through stories.

There are great traditions of storytelling in most societies. The stories that are repeated from generation to generation give an insight into ourselves that we internalize and hopefully retain and use to evaluate what is happening in our world.

One of my favourite stories is ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ by master Danish story teller Hans Christian Andersen.

I have had a number of emperor’s new clothes situations in my life. My latest experience is I have been taken in by a number of people when trying to establish a new business. I wanted it so much that I didn't do the appropriate planning and due diligence and was easily led astray by people with their own agendas. I was a sitting target so to speak.

My major mistake was I did not listen to my intuition.

For those who don’t know the story here is an outline.

In days gone by there was an emperor who loved to wear elegant clothes.

Instead of spending his time governing the empire he spent his time designing new outfits.

He spent most of his money having his designs made up from the best materials in the land.

He only appeared to his people to show off his new clothes.

One day two swindlers appeared who had decided to take advantage of the emperor.

It was easy for them to speak to the emperor because the palace guards had instructions to give anyone who was a weaver or a tailor entry to the palace.

The swindlers informed the emperor they were from a faraway country. They told him how exquisite their cloth was and it was invisible to anyone who was stupid or unsuited to the job they were doing.

The emperor thought how useful this magic cloth would be. He would be able to tell who was stupid, who was wise and who could or couldn't do their job properly.

He told the prime minister to give the weavers sacks of gold and silk thread and gold coins so they could get started.

Before long the story of the weavers and how they made exquisite cloth had spread throughout the empire.

They set themselves up in a work room with a loom and pretended to be working hard weaving beautiful fabrics. They had a small piece of precious silk and some gold thread to show anyone who questioned what they were doing.

One day the emperor, who was hesitant to go himself, decided to send the prime minister to see how the swindlers were proceeding with the weaving of the cloth.

“The prime minister isn't stupid and he is fit for his post,” thought the emperor so he will be able to bring me a progress report.

Full of confidence the prime minister went to meet the swindlers. They were ready for him.

Enthusiastically they made gestures of unrolling and presenting cloth and described the unique quality of each imaginary piece.

To his horror the unsuspecting prime minister couldn't see a thing. “I must be stupid. I may not even be good enough for my job,” thought the horrified man.

He returned to the emperor and praised the quality of the weaver’s work.

Before long the weavers asked for more coins. The prime minister knew there was something wrong, but was afraid to tell the emperor he couldn't see the cloth. Instead of being truthful, he gave the weavers more gold coins and gold and silk thread. They laughed at him behind his back.

The emperor grew impatient. He sent another courtier for a report and this man was also afraid to tell the emperor he couldn't see the cloth.

Finally, the emperor went to visit the workroom. Once again the swindlers went into raptures and described the non-existent cloth. Full of doubt but too frightened to say he couldn't see the material the emperor praised the workmanship and instructed the weavers to make him some new clothes.

When the swindlers arrived at the palace for a fitting the emperor was standing waiting in his underpants ready for his new clothes. They pretended to fit the cloth and said how resplendent the emperor looked.

“You must show your subjects your new clothes in the procession tomorrow,” said one of them.

Still the emperor was afraid to tell the truth. He allowed the swindlers to dress him for the parade.

“You look regal and intelligent,” said the swindlers grinning from ear to ear.

The emperor walked among his people in his underwear feeling very ashamed. Everyone was laughing at him and little boy said loudly, “Look the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.”

The emperor knew he was stupid and not fit for his job.

The swindlers left the kingdom with a fortune in coin, and gold and silk thread and were never seen again.

We all have weaknesses and it takes courage and honesty to admit them.

Success is a journey often with many trials and challenges. Searching for mentors who can support you because they have been where you are is one of the positive actions you can take.

Not everyone you meet is a swindler.


Street Talk

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