better job security – creativity

There’s a story about why the tiger can’t climb trees. A cat teaches the tiger to watch, crouch and spring and everything to survive. After a while the tiger starts feeling hungry, and wants to eat the cat! The cat runs up a tree, and the tiger is unable to pursue it now, as the cat hadn’t taught him that skill! The moral is better not teach others everything you know!

On the contrary, could the cat not have kept up its own learning… to climb higher or different kinds of trees?


There’s another story in the Jataka Tales…

Once on a time, while Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was born as the son of an elephant trainer. As he grew up, he was taught the art of managing elephants. He became an expert and was appointed by King as an Elephant Trainer.

There came a young villager from Kāsi, whom this Teacher took up as a pupil. The Teacher gave all his knowledge, without holding anything back, like an open fist. This youth learnt all the branches of knowledge from the Teacher, without omission. He became an expert himself, and one day said he to his master: “Master, I will go and serve the king.”

“Good, my son”, the Teacher said, and went and informed the king. The king agreed and the Teacher asked “Then do you know what fee to give?” The king replied that a pupil being a pupil, would receive only half of what the trainer knew. When the Teacher came back and reported this. The Teacher back and reported the conversation to the youth, who replied “Master, I know all your knowledge, piece for piece. I will serve the king only if I get the same payment as you; if not, then I will not serve him.” The next day, the Teacher reported this to the King. The King agreed, as long as the apprentice could prove this in an exhibition. The Teacher agreed to this, and the king proclaimed to the public, that the next day there would be an exhibition in managing elephants between the Master and the pupil.

That night, the Teacher chose an elephant, and used his creativity to come up with something new! In one night he taught the elephant to do everything in reverse. He taught him to back up when bidden to go forward; to go forward when bidden to go back; to lie down when bidden rise, and to rise when bidden lie down; to drop when told to pick up, and to pick up when told to drop.

Next day mounting his elephant he came to the palace yard. And his pupil also was there, mounted upon a beautiful elephant. There was a great concourse of people. They both showed all their skill. Then the Teacher made his elephant reverse orders; “Go on!” said he, and it backed; “Back!” and it ran forward; “Stand up!” and it lay down; “Lie!” and it stood up; “Pick it up!” and the creature dropped it; “Drop it!” and he picked it up. The youth had no idea how to do this and the Teacher won the competition.


In the corporate world, either of these approaches may be applied. One may not want to share all your knowledge with your peers because they may climb higher in the corporate ladder making you replaceable. Or as a company, one may not want to share everything about how you implemented a solution with your customers, because knowing everything, the customer may simply replace you with another provider who is cheaper.

Creativity is one of the factors that contributes to a better sense of job security.

Leave a Reply