Today, we start with one of Henson’s Fables:
The Zebra and His Friends
Once upon a time, a zebra wondered into the forest. He was quickly able to win many friends among the other animals. One day, he took a walk with four of his bunny rabbit friends. He paused and asked the first one, “What do you think I am?” The bunny looked at him puzzled and replied, “Why, you are a zebra, of course.” Immediately, the zebra roared like a lion and gobbled up the first bunny.
He then asked the second bunny, “What do you think I am?” This bunny had just witnessed the fate of his brother bunny, but replied, “You walk on four legs, you have black and white stripes, and you gallop like a horse. You are a beautiful, harmless zebra.” At that, the zebra roared and consumed the second bunny.
By now, the third bunny was becoming nervous. When the zebra asked him, “What do you think I am?”, this bunny smiled knowingly and said, “Though you have stripes like a zebra, you are a lion, my friend.” At once, the zebra roared again and ate the third bunny.
It was now the fourth bunny’s turn for the question. The zebra asked, “What do you think I am?” Without hesitation, the fourth bunny immediately turned and ran away as fast as he could. As he ran, he said, “I really don’t care what you are at this point! All I need to know is that I am a rabbit… and rabbits run!”
Moral of the story: You are defined by what you do, not by what you appear to be.
We are often very quick to jump to conclusions just by what we see. When we see a very tall man, we assume he must play basketball. Tall girls must play basketball or volleyball. Men with perfect hair must be in sales or marketing. We all have examples we could use in which we generalize about people or their capabilities simply because of their appearance. How wrong we are! Appearances no more define who we are that the stripes worn by the lion in the story above.
Let’s look at a few examples:
- Leaders are defined by how they motivate, guide, and encourage, not by the title they hold, the power they claim, or the volume of their voice.
- A friend is defined by the support they give, their unending loyalty, their trustworthiness, and the experiences they share, not by the shallow words they use… they are defined by what they do, not merely by what they say.
- Character is defined by what you do, not be what you plan, promise, or say you’ll do.
- Integrity is defined by your honesty, your service to others, and by how you make the world a better place, not by your money, position, power, or intentions.
- Love is defined by commitment, sacrifice, and service, not by plans, potential, petitions, or paper.
- A winner is defined not just by what you accomplish, but by how you did it.
- Happiness and contentment are defined by what you feel inside, not by what you have, own, or accomplish.
We must not be fooled by what we see. Rather, we need to see the inside… that which really counts.
And for ourselves, we are defined by what we do, whether we like it or not. Despite our best efforts to appear to be something we are not, our actions always give us away. Don’t fool yourself… you are what you do.