What Your Small Business Can Learn from an Old Man, a Little Boy, and a Donkey

Small Business. Photo Credit – Flickr: magnusfranklin“How exhausting is it being you?” a friend recently asked me over coffee.

“Extremely,” I replied.

Interestingly enough, he wasn’t observing that I’m burned out from my Revision Fairy® Small Business Proofreading Services duties.

I know that I need to get a good amount of rest (even if it’s during unconventional sleeping hours), eat a proper diet (that sometimes includes Chicken McNuggets), and exercise regularly (by taking walks and dancing around my apartment).

His question stemmed from my tendency to over-think everything.

I fixate on ideas, stories, and situations. If you’re a small business writer or entrepreneur, you probably do the same thing.

While the inability to switch my mind off is sometimes exhausting, over-thinking ultimately suits me because it fuels my creativity and helps me make your writing awesome.

Lately I’ve been preoccupied with a story that I heard Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid, tell during the June 3 episode of Internet Marketing for Smart People Radio.

Port’s retelling of one of Aesop’s fables encompasses an important reminder for small business proprietors.

After finding myself repeatedly contemplating the parable while grocery shopping, interpretive dishwashing, or during my daily blog reading, I decided to share the tale with you.

I’m also hoping that writing the story here will put my mind at rest a bit, so that the next time I take a shower I won’t accidentally shampoo my hair three times because I’m not focused on what I’m doing.

Here it is—enjoy!

An old man, a little boy, and a donkey want to travel into town from the village where they live, so they start off on their journey.

The little boy is riding on the donkey, and the old man is walking next to them. As they pass a group of people, the crowd shames them and shouts, “Little boy, what are you doing on that donkey? How can you make that old man walk?”

Realizing his error, the little boy says, “You’re absolutely right. We need to switch.”

So, the old man gets on the donkey, and the little boy walks next to them.

The trio passes another group who shouts at the old man, “What kind of person are you? How can you make that little boy walk?”

Once again, the old man and the little boy think they need to make a change. They decide they both should walk next to the donkey.

The old man and the little boy then pass farmers who laugh at them and yell, “Look at those idiots! They have a donkey to ride and they’re walking next to it.”

Since they now realize that they need to take advantage of the donkey, the old man and the little boy both get on the donkey and continue to ride it into town.

The next group that they pass shames them and explains, “It’s inhumane to put such a load on a donkey! How dare you?”

To make up for this wrongdoing, the old man and the little boy decide to carry the donkey for the remainder of their trip.

They pick up the donkey, and right before they get into town they have to cross a bridge.

As they cross the bridge, the donkey slips from their arms, falls into the river, and drowns.

And the moral of the story is: if you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass goodbye.

Click here to listen to Michael Port’s entire interview about getting all the clients that you can handle, and subscribe to Revision Fairy to get fresh small business writing tips each week. –

Freelance ProofreaderStefanie Flaxman created Revision Fairy® Small Business Proofreading Services with your editing needs in mind.

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