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The one-arm boy

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —May 11, 2008
Filed in Anecdotes, Business storytelling

There was a boy who was born without a right arm. On his ninth birthday he asked his parents if he could join a karate club. They were delighted by the idea and the boy quickly became a regular at the local dojo. The boy wanted to compete in a tournament and asked his master if this was possible. The master said he could but only if he listened carefully to his master and trusted him.

The master taught the boy one move and one move only. The boy practised it diligently but after a while he was worried that the other boys were learning a range of moves and he only had one. He asked the master to teach him other moves but the master said no. The master just urged the boy to keep practising that one move.

The boy won the first round of the tournament and then the next round and the one after that until he found himself winning the entire tournament. The boy was baffled. How did he do it? He asked the master how a boy with only one arm and only one move could win a karate tournament against these other boys. The master smiled and told the boy that there is only one defence against the move the boy learned and that defence involves grabbing the attacker by the right arm.

I believe this is a Zen teaching story. It was told to me by Pavan Choudary. I spent two days with Pavan and a terrific group of creative people at Conversations that Create. Pavan has recently launched his book, When you are sinking, become a submarine. Pavan is an inspirational and fascinating fellow and if his book is anything like the wonderful conversations we had, it will be well worth getting a copy.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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