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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The 18th Camel

by Seattle Jon (bio)

I hope this short story helps someone have a better day today than they otherwise would have had.


There is a story of a man who left seventeen camels to his three sons. He left half the camels to his eldest son, a third to his middle son, and a ninth to his youngest. The three set to dividing up their inheritance but soon despaired of their ability to negotiate a solution - because  seventeen could not be divided by two or three or nine.

The sons approached a wise old woman. After pondering the problem, the old woman said, “See what happens if you take my camel.” So the sons now had eighteen camels.

The eldest son took his half - that was nine. The middle son took his third - that was six. And the youngest son took his ninth - that was two. Nine and six and two made seventeen. They had one camel left over, which they gave back to the wise old woman.

Like the problem with the camels, negotiations will often seem intractable. Like the wise old woman, you will need to step back from the negotiation, look at the problem from a fresh angle, and find an eighteenth camel.

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