October 22 began the Chinese Lunar Year of the Rabbit. After the previous hectic Year of the Tiger, the Rabbit should bring us more peace and tranquility, as we continue to manage the many changes in consumer and labor behavior that have caused us supply chain management pain. But as we work through these issues however, Lunar Year experts suggest to us that working different or smarter can result in positive change.
Doing things as they have always been done results in the same, albeit safe, mediocre performance. This year, it may be time to step off the path, and in this week’s blog, I am encouraging you to read the following poem by Sam Walter Foss which relates a moral tale for doing just that.
The Calf Path
One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then, two hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And therein hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made;
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ‘twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed – do not laugh-
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked.
Because he wobbled when he walked’
The forest path became a lane
That bent, and turned, and turned again:
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun.
And traveled some three miles in one
And thus, a century and a half
They trod the footprints of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footprints of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand were led
By one calf near three centuries dead
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day.
For this such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson we might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what others have done.
They follow on the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
But how the old woods gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! Many things this tale might teach –
But I am not ordained to preach.
I realize this blog is a departure from our usual style, but hope you will find it worth serious thought.