Once upon a time, a company organized a two-day
course of rafting on the rapids, to foster team spirit among
The first day, the leader was a highly experienced rafter.
He explained that all the team members had to obey the
commands of the leader, without any question or doubts;
and had to deliver strokes in perfect co-ordination. This way
a strong team spirit would be formed and the team would
conquer the rapids. After an instructional and motivational
talk, the leader led the team into the rapids. The leader
shouted his commands, so that the executives could hear it
above the sound of the raging waters. The executives
followed each and every command with total obedience.
With each stroke of the oars, they felt they were mastering
the rapids. Finally, at the end of the journey, the executives
were jubilant as they felt they had won. They had
successfully conquered the rapids.
The second day, the leader was also a highly experienced
rafter. But he was a quiet man and soft spoken. He told the
executives to feel the rage of the rapids, to notice the swirls
of the water, and to look out for any rocks ahead. While
absorbing the feel, flow, and rhythm of the waters, they had
to simply guide their raft, so that the raft traveled with the
waters of the rapids, effortlessly, on its own.
The executives listened to the rapids and made strokes on
their own. As they guided the raft, they felt no tension, no
disquiet and no feeling of power. They identified themselves
with the rapids and became one with it. The rapids had
become their friend. When they completed the journey, they
did not feel as if they had conquered or defeated the rapids.
They did not feel any competition or fight at all.
In the two days of rafting, besides learning teamwork and
team spirit, the executives had learnt much more than they
Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani