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 extremely wealthy man. So, when, one hot summer day at the age of 55, he had a sudden heart attack and fell off his camel and died, the entire country went into mourning.
In no time at all, thousands of people gathered at his estate for the funeral, feast, 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 astonished 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. Realising they needed help to resolve their disagreement, they summoned the local wise man.
After listening to each of the three sons make their case, the wise man explained he needed some time to think about the matter and would return, God willing, in an hour.
Sixty minutes later, the three sons, still arguing, looked up and saw in the distance, the wise man, riding a camel, approaching them.
“Boys,” he exclaimed, upon dismounting, “I have so much respect for your father that I’ve decided to donate one of my own camels to your inheritance. Now you have eighteen.
“Let’s see…” he said, stroking his beard. “Half of 18 is nine… so the eldest of you will inherit nine camels. And… hmm… one third of 18 is six, so the middle son will inherit six… and one ninth of 18 is two which means the youngest of you will inherit two camels.
Then he smiled, paused, and spoke again.
“Based on my calculations, oh fortunate sons of Hamid, 9 + 6 + 2 = 17 — which is the exact number of camels your father wanted you to have. That leaves one camel remaining — mine — so I guess I’ll just get back on top of him now and continue on my way. May Allah be with you. Enjoy your inheritance!”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Every problem has a solution, even if the solution may not be immediately apparent. Your opportunity, at this precise moment in time, is to think about your problem differently than you usually do. It’s possible. It is. All you need to do is to let go your old assumptions, go beyond the status quo, and be open to entertaining some out-of-the-box possibilities. What pressing problem of yours, these days, do you need to approach in a new way? (HINT: Your first step is to frame your problem as a question beginning with the words “How can I?”)
And if you need a bit of a nudge to go beyond your usual way of problem solving, click here.