INSPIRING PEOPLE TO LEAD UNCOMMON LIVES
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There once lived a king, a very benevolent fellow who was loved by all in his kingdom.
One day an army came and overran the kingdom's castle, making off with half the treasury. The king decided to tell the people he had to increase taxes to make up for the loss. He called in one of his court wise men.
"How can I break the news without inciting a revolt?" he asked.
The wise man pondered and came up with a gentle way of explaining the theft as a tragedy for the entire kingdom, and imploring the people for their support. It went over well.
Time passed, and once again the neighboring army raided the castle, this time carting away much of the food stored for the winter. Once again, the king called upon his wise man - by this time, he was known as the Director of Wisdom - and laid bare the facts.
"What can I tell my subjects this time?" the king asked. "They will lose confidence in me if I can't defend the kingdom's food and money."
Again the wise man pondered. He advised the king to be frank about the loss, but to say only that it had gone to a neighboring kingdom that needed it desperately. The king told the people and asked them to work harder on the next harvest. They did, and all was well.
By this time the neighboring army was getting good at raids. Once again they struck, hauling away horses, hay, more food stock, and most of the royal jewels. Once again, the king summoned his adviser, the Vice President of Wisdom and Sage Advice. This time the king was despondent.
"They raid the treasury. They take our food. They steal our livestock!" the king wailed. "And the queen is going to kill me about those jewels. You are my most trusted adviser, What shall I do?"
The wise man hesitated. "I think," he said, "I think the time has come to put the water back in the moat."
The moral of this story is simple: solve a fundamental problem, and you won't have as many public relations problems.
From: Harold Burson, Cofounder of Burson-Marsteller Public Relations printed in Leadership...with a human touch, March 14, 1995
I have reinvented myself numerous times over my professional career.