The 18th Camel

How a single story can help you arrive at an elegant solution

Mitch Ditkoff

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Storytelling is the swiss-army knife of transformational catalysts. Told well, it can be used to build community, inspire, delight, transmit tacit knowledge, share wisdom, educate, inform, change behavior, and spark elegant solutions.

The following story (a re-telling of a classic tale), accomplishes many the above, but is primarily about sparking elegant solutions. When you come to the end of it, I invite you to take a few minutes to reflect on the questions that follow.

The 18th Camel

Once upon a time, in Egypt, there was a much beloved camel merchant named Hamid. Hamid was known throughout the land as not only a connoisseur of fine camels, but a kind-hearted, generous, and wealthy gentleman. So, when, on one particularly scorching summer day he had a sudden heart attack and fell off his camel, the entire country went into mourning.

In no time at all, thousands of people gathered at his estate for the funeral and celebration of his life.

When the gathering was over, Hamid’s Chief Executor sat down with the camel merchant’s three sons for the ritual reading of the will.

The boys were stunned by the size of their inheritance, but of all the treasures bequeathed to them, the most precious were their father’s prized camels — 17 of them, which he requested be divided in the following way: one-half to his eldest son, one-third to his middle son, and one ninth to his youngest.

But since 17 cannot be divided up equally in this fashion, the three sons began arguing, then pushing each other, then wrestling on the ground . Realizing they needed help to resolve their disagreement, they called for the local wise man.

Upon listening to each of the three sons make their case, the wise man explained that he needed some time to think about the matter and would return, God willing, in an hour.

Sixty minutes later, the three sons, in the heat of yet another mean-spirited argument, look up and see, off in the distance, the wise man, approaching them, riding a very large camel

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Mitch Ditkoff

Co-Founder of Idea Champions, Face The Music & Sage Catalysts. Author of Storytelling for the Revolution, Storytelling at Work, Unspoken Word and Free the Genie