The Business of Aesop 


Episode 85

The Lion in Love.
Loving the Deal.

By Gregg Zegarelli, Esq.

Love is often a good thing.  Yes, I started to write that love is always a good thing.  And then I started to write that love is usually a good thing.  But, to be more rational, I think it's best to say that love is "often" a good thing.

Whether love is good thing would seem to depend upon the cause and the object of the affection.  What we love, and why we love it, would seem to be relevant to any determination of whether love is a good thing.  We know that there are all sorts of things we love that are bad, in one way or another.

But, we have to be careful here.  We know that attaching any rational assessment to an emotion is tricky business in today's world. 

Some people teach that emotions are not right or wrong, they just are; that is, some people say to try to attach rational assessments to emotions is futile.  Some people say that rationality and emotionality are in different spaces.  But, not everyone agrees. 

The Great Socrates addressed this issue about 1,500 years ago in The Republic of Plato. (Socrates, like Jesus and Confucius, did not write anything himself; Plato, the disciple of Socrates, did all the writing.)

I'll paraphrase and reform the concept to illustrate Socrates' view on love and emotions.

In The Republic of Plato, Socrates was looking for "justice" in a human being, and, by way of Plato, he used the political body (the Republic) by analogy.  Finding justice in the larger political body would be easier than finding it in the smaller human body, so he started with the bigger picture. 

Socrates said: Let's say, in a certain political republic, that there is a ruler and an army, as is usual.  The army goes on a military campaign.  While remote and on the campaign, the army can act freely as it may.  So far, the political body works well. 

But, now, let's say the ruler commands the army to return home.  When the army obeys, great; the state is in operational harmony.  We understand this fact.  Things do what they should do, and we have justice.  But, now, watch what happens when the army refuses to obey:

"No thanks, our dear benevolent Philosopher King. We will n not return home until we want to do so.  We control."

Cruel anarchy!  The political body is now in a state of disharmony.  Why?  Because the parts of the body are not respecting the "roles" of the other parts of the political body.  This disharmonious injustice for the state causes misery.  The state is destroyed by its parts, although each is independently virtuous, simply because the parts are not respecting each other.

Injustice.  Disharmony.  Dissention.  Destruction.

But now Socrates, like Aesop, uses his displaced literary teaching device of the republic to relate the story to the human being and human nature. 

Socrates analogizes that the ruler is a person's rational faculties.  And, the army is the person's emotional faculties.  The mind thinks.  The emotions feel.  But, such as in a harmonious state, the ruler must rule, and humans must ultimately be ruled by higher rational capabilities, or wisdom, for that is the quality that gives humanity its particular distinction.

The emotions can do what emotions do, freely, but only when it is rationally correct to do so. That is, the emotions may run free until the mind, as the ruler, says, "come home."  Once the mind says, "come home," the emotions must obey.  If the emotions do not obey the mind, there is injustice, and the human body is in the state of disharmony.

Cruel and miserable anarchy!  The failure of wisdom to be in control is the beginning of the end.

Socrates, a tried and true soldier in his youth, never said the well-ordered state should not have an army, or that humans should not feel.  Indeed, a healthy condition of the body should have both.  Socrates said that a well-ordered human has a strong mind, and strong emotions, but that the emotions are ultimately under the control of the mind, simply because it is the mind's job to make decisions, including when it is wise to feel.

Therefore, to the question of whether the rational faculties and emotional faculties are in different spaces, Socrates would probably say that the question is immaterial, since there is no contention for space when all parts of a human being concede to the authority of the wisdom of the mind.  Harmony.  Sure, throwing all rationality to the wind for any emotion (good or bad emotions) does sometimes work out well in effect, but Socrates would call this lucky, not wise. And luck is bad strategy.

I mention this because, in business, emotions and passions definitely have a place. They are the wind of inspiration. But, the vessel of business needs the rudder of wisdom, or it is uncontrollable.

As an attorney, when I have a client who is in love with a deal, it can be a very dangerous thing from a strategic perspective.  A deal negotiation, in a way, is like an auction.  There is rational point of a good deal, with the possibility that a loving desire for the object will cause paying too high a price.  Some mistakes are catastrophic.  Have you ever watched Shark Tank?  It illustrates what I tell clients who are looking for investors:

"The investors don't love your product; the investors love the money that your product creates. There is a difference."

Aesop agrees.  We must stay ultimately rational.  For 2,500 years, he's been right there telling us, "don't fall in love with the deal," with one of my personal favorites, The Lion in Love, re-stated here for you:

The Lion in Love

A Lion fell in love with a beautiful Maiden and proposed marriage with her to her Parents.

The Parents neither wanted the Lion to marry their daughter, nor wanted to offend the Lion. The Father said:

We are honored, but we fear you might do our daughter some injury.  If you should have your claws and teeth removed, then we would consider your proposal.

The Lion was so in love that he removed his teeth and claws.

But when the Lion returned to the Parents, sans teeth and claws, they simply laughed in his face, and bade him to do his worst.

Moral of the Story: Love is the start of folly.

The Lion was in love with the deal.  Foolish Lion.  Foolish acts need luck, and we know that luck is bad strategy.  For this deal, the Lion was unwise and unlucky.  Cruel injustice!  Cruel disharmony!  Now, the Lion has no deal, no teeth, no claws, and no Maiden. 

Aesop drives his point home by purposefully using his Lion, Aesop's most powerful symbol strength and regency!  Aesop is letting us know, by implication, that no one is safe from a tendency to violate the rule of foolishly falling in love with the deal!  The mind thinks, and the heart feels, each has a place, but the mind, being the seat of wisdom, says where and how far each is to go.  The emotional acts of today will not withstand the rational scrutiny of tomorrow.

Therefore, yes, loving the deal is always a good thing, but only when it is wise to love the deal.

The Business of Aesop is a series of short articles and newsletters by Gregg Zegarelli, Esq. applying the principles of Aesop to a business context.  Copyright © Gregg Zegarelli 2015.  All rights reserved. The fable summaries are excerpts from The Essential Aesop: For Business, Managers, Writers and Professional Speakers, Print 978-0-9899299-1-2, eBook 978-0-9899299-3-6, by Arnold Zegarelli and Gregg Zegarelli, Esq., Copyright © 2013.  All rights reserved.