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What a Group of HOUSE RATS Can Teach You About Productivity, Time-Management, Team Organization & More…

12 August 2011 2 Comments

woman holding rats in palms

NOTE: You can have me read this post TO YOU here (and even download it for your personal archives):

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“Long ago there was a council of mice who bound together to overthrow their common enemy, the Cat. They mice infested a small cottage and the owner eventually bought a cat to scare them all away, so they held this meeting to stage their counter-attack…

The council was filled with bickering, complaining, mass confusion and fear until a younger mouse stood up and said:

“Look, we all know that the problem is with the speed and stealthy manner in which the Cat approaches us…she stalks us and therefore has ‘the up’ on us before we even realize she’s there

belling the cat graphic imageSo what we need to do is get a bell and some ribbon to tie the bell to the cat’s neck, so as she comes, we’ll hear her, and know to escape in time.

The council responds in joy, like “Dang that’s deep…” “Yeah…EXACTLY what we need to do.” “Brilliant…that’s our move”

…and there’s nothing but cheers and applause until an elder mouse steps up and says: “That’s all well and good, but which one of you volunteers himself to actually tie the bell???

In everyone’s silence, he continues: “It is one thing to propose, another to execute…”

…that’s from Aesop’s Fables. Some people say it’s one of Aesop’s, others say it’s from somewhere else and falsely attributed to him, but the point is clear: it’s easy to suggest impossible solutions.

It’s easy to have a “council of mice” that’ll propose TONS of ideas that sound good theoretically, but actually sitting down and applying them is an entirely different story.

How This Works in Your Own Life

So the council of mice can metaphorically represent either: (A) your own inspirations and plans, or (B) group conferences and meetings that contain a lot of suggestions and excitement, but a TINY AMOUNT of personal accountability.

I read a book once called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, where he mentions that most corporations can boost their profits by CUTTING DOWN on meetings, rather then trying to improve them.

african americans in business meeting

Most corporations tend to have meetings at regular intervals that are essentially rituals without purpose…a pointless habit that only DISTRACTS workers from working, rather then help them work better.

So what I’m saying, on one hand, is if you want to accomplish more, don’t focus too much on meetings and conferences…

Not that you shouldn’t network or coordinate tasks, just don’t worry too much about meetings, because they often turn into rambles, round-table discussions and laid-back “kick it” sessions that the most productive members of your group will grow to resent.

Purposeful meetings usually force themselves to occur: they’re naturally born and have a “what are you going to do, what am I going to do and when are we going to do it?” vibe about them.

More Personal Examples

When I was still in college, I was part of this dope activist organization, and one thing we tried for a while was using PHONE meetings to replace our live, physical ones, and these phone sessions were drastically more productive.

Whenever we had physical meetings,

>> people would be late (or not show up at all),

>> they would last hours, and

>> very little would get accomplished.

But whenever we had phone meetings,

>> people would be on time (or only slightly, reasonably late),

>> they would last maybe 10 or 15 minutes,

>> they were VERY focused, direct.

…and everyone left with an emotional sense of accomplishment. (Try adapting this into your group program or institution. It shows respect for everyone’s time and leverages technology in a reasonable way.)

asian woman making phone call

Lastly, what I’m also saying on the personal level is NARROW YOUR FOCUS DOWN TO A PLAN YOU CAN ACTUALLY WORK ON.

You hear me talk about this all the time: be realistic about what you can do and what you can’t do, and sensible about what’s worthwhile and within reach (what you’re willing to actually execute).

Don’t get caught up in the internal council of mice. Let go of all the complaining, frustration, and idealistic, magical proposals…be the mature elder who deciphers between what’s real and what’s not.

Take it easy. I’m glad you checked this out, so leave a comment below letting me know your thoughts or if you have any questions…



  • Sepia Prince said:

    The association between the council of mice and planning/execution is slick. Nodding my nodder at this one, Bro.

  • Jean Bons said:


    Thanks for the reminder of the Aesop fable. I love how you apply ideas to your stories. I like to do the same thing!

    Jean Bons

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