The Two Sisters – A Short Story

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Once upon a time there were two sisters from a tropical island. One of the sisters was round and voluptuous, the other thin and angular.  The one who was round and voluptuous was very popular. She had boyfriends and was invited to parties all the time.  The one who was thin and angular would often tag along with her sister, the pretty one, to the parties and other activities. Her sister and her sister’s friends were mean to her and the men showed no interest because she was not very pretty or sexy.  She knew she was ugly and just accepted it as the way it was.

After she graduated from high school the thin one had a chance to move to the city and live with relatives. She didn’t see many prospects or options staying on the Island so she decided to go.  As soon as she had moved to the city she had started to notice men paying attention to her.  They would chat with her in cafes, flirt with her on the street, smile at her even when she took her young nephew for a walk. All of it was quite confusing for her since she knew she was ugly.

The thin one had only been in the city a few weeks when she was stopped on the street by someone who asked if she was a model.  She laughed at the man and told him she was not and could never be, a model. He begged to differ and gave her his card. He asked her to call him if she was interested.  She laughed all the way home but her Aunt, when she heard about it, said she should go check it out, that she actually was model material. The thin one laughed because she knew she was ugly and certainly not model material.

The thin one decided to go meet the man just to get her Aunt off her back.  And in what was the biggest surprise of her young life, the man was actually the artistic director of a very large and legitimate modeling agency.  They liked her and within a month she had her first paid assignment and within 6 months she was making a good living.

In the meanwhile the voluptuous one was hearing about this back on the island.  She was very confused, and a bit jealous, because she knew what her sister knew. She was the pretty one, the popular one, and her sister was the ugly one. But now she was hearing she was a model in the city? How could that be? It made no sense.  She decided to go visit and see for herself.

The first thing the voluptuous one noticed when she got to the city was how few men paid any attention to her.  She walked through the airline terminal, picked up her bag at the baggage claim, and even hailed a taxi and no one paid any attention. It was not something she was used to and it made no sense.  But she chalked it up to her maybe not being all that fresh looking after the long flight and forgot about it.

It didn’t take her long to become annoyed by how opinionated her sister was. She wasn’t nearly as meek as she used to be. She had even argued with her about what to wear when they went out to the party her sister had been invited to that night! The voluptuous one wanted to wear a revealing dress, one that showed off her cleavage (which was plentiful) and her legs.  Her sister told her that was not a good look, that she had to choose one or the other, show cleavage or show legs, not both. The voluptuous one didn’t like that but decided to go with the leg look, just so they wouldn’t have a big fight on her first day together in the city.

The party was very exciting. There were some people the sister who was visiting recognized from TV and from magazines, though she couldn’t remember their names. Her sister introduced her to many people, so many she lost track.  She realized that her sister was one of the stars of the party, she was popular with men and women alike, older people and younger.  When the sister from the city would go off to chat the sister from the island alone she noticed once again she got barely any attention from anyone, unless it was when someone came up to her to tell her how amazing her sister is.

It was then that she had her epiphany.  She saw it so clearly.  They had switched roles.  Here in the city her sister was the pretty one, and she was the ugly one.  She went to the bathroom and sat in a stall and cried.  When she came out her sister realized something was wrong.  She smiled inside, happy to see her sister, who had been so mean to her so often get a taste of what it was like to be the ugly one.  The sister from the island tried to explain to her how she felt but the sister from the city wasn’t showing much sympathy.  By the time they got home to the Aunt and Uncle’s house they were having a fight about it.

The Uncle and Aunt were still up when they got home and couldn’t help but hear them fighting.  They invited them to sit in the kitchen and have a cup of tea, calm down a bit and maybe talk to them about it, which they did.  They both explained their version of what happened that night, which led to an explanation of what used to happen on the Island. How they both felt ugly and both felt pretty, all depending on where they were.  They talked about how they didn’t want to feel that way but did in spite of that.

The Uncle said, “You know, your Aunt has gone through this too.”  

They looked at her and said in unison, “You have?” 

“Yes.  I was voluptuous and popular on the Island just like you are. Then I came to the City and I didn’t get nearly as much attention, just like you.” she said to the one sister.  “So I decided I would do whatever it took to become attractive to the people in the City. I worked and worked and worked.  Finally I started to get noticed.  I went on dates, had fun, had a lot of friends.  Then I was in that car accident you heard about many years ago and wasn’t able to keep in shape after that. I became like I had been before.  Many friends left me and I wasn’t asked on any dates anymore.  But there was one person who knew me when I first came from the Island, knew me when I became popular and pretty, and knew me after my accident. That person was always my friend, was always supportive, was always saying kind and complimentary things to me.  I saw him almost every day because he worked the counter at the grocery store I would go in.  You know who that is, right?  He’s your Uncle.”

The sisters had never heard that story before.  They smiled and told their Uncle what a great man he was. But he stopped them.  He said, “I was not that great a guy.  All I did was care about your Aunt.  I didn’t know anything about ‘popular’ or ‘pretty’ in the city. All I knew was your Aunt was kind and thoughtful and smart. She also was very pretty to me, so I am not saying that wasn’t there. But her ‘pretty’ came as much from her smile and kind words as it did from her beautiful face.”

“What that taught me girls is this,” the Aunt said, “You are planted somewhere in the world, it’s called your home. But not everyone fits in perfectly to the larger home that is your island or your city.  Some look out of place to others in the city or the Island.  Some look like they belong.  You can’t control what the rest of the Island or the City are going to think of you. What you can do is develop the things that matter, no matter where you are, city or island.  You develop those things and someone will be there to see them.  In my case I was lucky enough to have the boy at the grocery counter notice them. I am grateful for that.”

The uncle piped up with a laugh, “And I am grateful this beautiful woman noticed me!”

The sisters went upstairs to bed. They talked a long time, apologizing for all the small and big slights they had laid on each other. They decided to be more supportive and loving to each other and others in the future. And they did just that.

And in the most ironic twist of all. The sister from the Island met the man of her dreams on the flight back to the Island. The man was from the city and was going on a business trip to visit some resorts he had contracts with. They talked the entire time and she knew by the end of the flight he was the man for her.  They ended up marrying and settling in the city of all places.  She felt loved and cherished the rest of her life. 

The sister from the city had a more roundabout journey to her true love. But it was equally ironic when it happened.  It was when she went back to visit her family on the island 10 years later. She was a famous model by then and everyone on the island knew of her.  Well, almost everyone.  There was a man in her home town who ran the local orphanage. He never really had time to pay attention to fashion magazines or watch TV and didn’t know who she was.  But when she came with her mother to help at the orphanage one day, he watched her play with the kids with rapt attention. He noticed the care she showed, the willingness to get dirty, the smarts to figure out why the roof was leaking in one corner.  He asked her to come back again if she could. And she did, the very next day.  Within a year, after she had made many more visits to the island than she ever had before, they were engaged.  She moved back to the island permanently a short while later and they got married in a ceremony on the beach with all the orphans and her family all around.

She would occasionally do some runway modeling shows at the resorts but otherwise she was full-time at the orphanage, loving her life and her husband until the end of her days.

The End


Drawing and story © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Victor Hugo


 

Killing Creativity – Business #8

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Business

Hiring and promotions in business works like this all the time.  It might be political considerations in a University President’s office. It might be a stylistic or theoretical dislike on the part of one of the senior executives at the firm. The reasons can be valid and real, but they can also lead to a compromise candidate that isn’t as well qualified as the ‘best’ candidate.

Creativity

It happens all the time in art too. How? By the artist deciding they must bow to pressure from a gallery director, or a studio head, or the media marketplace.  They want to create one thing but they are told it won’t sell so they compromise and create a Frankenstein instead. Part their vision but part other people’s visions as well.  The result might sell but is probably not nearly as unique or authentic a creation as would have been created if the artist were left alone to create what they wish.

Is this a bad thing? not always. But it is something that often diminishes originality to the point that you end up with something bland and uninteresting. And that’s a shame in my book.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote is adapted from one by Charles Kettering


 

Your Way – Business #7

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Ego

It’s constantly a struggle for many people to let go of not only the desire to be right, but the desire to be acknowledged as the originator of an idea.  I just finished reading a book called ‘The Innovators’, about the history of the development of the computer and all that has come from it.  

Blind

One of the most amazing aspects of this history is how many big companies dismissed and derided new ideas coming down the pike from their own developers and engineers.  So much so that the smart people at the large corporations figured out they needed to isolate their innovators away from the corporate bureaucracy, even to the point of setting them up on the opposite coast. 

And even then most of these large companies did not exploit what was discovered and invented right in their own labs.  Why? Because they believed that their version of the future was correct, and it didn’t include outlandish ideas like transistor radios or personal computers. 

Mindset Matters

This quote is by Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Electronics.  As a result of his mindset, Sony has had an amazing run at the forefront of electronic product development. Their record isn’t perfect, they missed out on some things, but overall they have been able to grab hold of new ideas and run with them.

For me the application of the idea behind this quote, whether in business, science, religion, or life, is simple.  Let my ego and greed diminish and let my open mindedness and love of others increase.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Akio Morita, 1921 – 1990, Founder and Chairman of Sony


 

 

Discovery – Business #6

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Innovation

I just finished reading a book called ‘The Innovators’ by Walter Isaacson. I highly recommend it. It’s the history of the computer and digital revolution.  It’s an amazing story of people trying something that people before them said couldn’t be done. It’s the story of people fiddling around in their garages and workbenches; experimenting, failing, experimenting again and again, sometimes not even really knowing specifically what it is they are reaching for. They knew it had never existed before and that is exciting.  It’s the story of collaboration, trusting others on a team to be both rigorous in their work and open minded in their willingness to attempt things that have never been attempted.  It’s the story of people respecting and understanding ideas and inventions already in existence but not being limited by those same ideas and inventions.

This Is How It’s Done

One of the hardest things for a person who has been at the same company a long time to do is let the new people make their own discoveries about what works and doesn’t work in the business.  This is also true of parents with kids and of coaches with athletes. In these cases we think we can see the best way to do something, whether it’s how to close a sale, cook a roast or do an exercise. We know because we have done it so many times, right? It’s good to have training in place so new workers can know how something is done properly. It’s good to have your child in the kitchen with you so you can show them how to prepare the roast properly.  It’s good to show the athlete how to lift the weights properly.  

This Is the New Way It’s Done

But there comes a time when they have ideas of their own. Maybe they see a flaw in your method. Maybe they have figured out a shortcut. Maybe something about the process just doesn’t make sense to them.  Or maybe they are bored and just want to try something new.  What do you do then?  You let them try the new ideas.  Of course, we aren’t talking about allowing something dangerous. But something new and untried? Why not?

It’s what makes the world progress.


Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote by Benjamin Franklin


 

Temptation – Business #5

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My Father’s Method

My father wasn’t good with money.  He was raised without a lot of it so when he ended up getting enough to go around than then some he didn’t spend it or invest it all that wisely.  Honestly, early on I was the beneficiary of those decisions.  For example, when my grandmother on my mother’s side died, he used the inheritance to by a boat.  It was our first boat ever. But it was not a sensible little boat we could learn on.  It was a 47′ houseboat. It was big. As a result we hung with the big dogs at the various marinas we docked at and I was able to use the boat as my own personal playground for many summers.  But in the end the boat blew up on us. I mean that literally. It did actually blow up and I was burned on 75% of my body as a result.  Buying that boat was temptation over opportunity.

He once invested in a company simply because it happened to be located in the same office building as his.  Of course, it could have turned out great, if the company had been Apple. But it was an obscure little company that found hard to find needles for record players.  I still have the stock certificates, worthless now for many decades.  Why did he do that? Because he liked the guys who ran the company. He wanted to help them out and that was how he could do it. But it probably wasn’t a wise investment. It was temptation over opportunity. 

Questions

I am not immune from this.  I am easily tempted as well.  I haven’t had much money to throw around but there are other ways to be tempted.  Temptation has more to do with where your attention is focused than anything else.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your business attention focused on long term or short term goals?
  • Are you planning for something in your business’ future by saving or organizing? Or do you just deal with things as they pop up?
  • Are you able to keep your business focused in a certain direction even when the initial excitement of your choice has dwindled? Or do you change your direction based on your enthusiasm and excitement level?
  • Do you rely only on what you see and hear in your immediate business environment to decide what to do with your time and money? Or do you investigate by purposely exploring areas and industries you aren’t familiar with?
  • Are you able to imagine your business ideas being implemented by others? Or do you feel you need to do it all?
  • Are you able to adapt to new circumstances?  Or are you rigid and firm in your direction, no matter what?

It’s in the Building

I just finished reading a great book called ‘The Innovators – How a group of hackers, geniuses and geeks created the digital revolution’. It is an amazing book that I highly recommend.  One of the major takeaways I have from the book is how completely obscure their business future was to each and every one of these entrepreneurs.  We look back on this history and we see it as inevitable that IBM, Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Google, the internet, all would exist. But not one of the people building those businesses had any idea what they would eventually become.

They started with an idea and they had a vision, but they didn’t know about the technology’s future. Some predicted what would happen, even as far back as the mid-1800s. But those people didn’t build the machines. Those who built the machines and the software, they didn’t have the luxury of just prognosticating. They had to build something.  It was in the building that the future was created, not the philosophizing.

And building takes place when focus is good, when opportunities are taken advantage of and temptations are minimized.


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman | napkindad.com

Quote is from a fortune cookie


 

 

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