Getting Attention

There is this really old joke about a farmer and his mule. This mule was the most stubborn thing on four feet. When the mule decided it would not move, it would not move. At those times, the farmer tried everything. He would yell at it. He would pull on the reins. He even tried pushing it, but only once. The farmer realized that he would have to wait helplessly until the mule decided to move.

One day, the farmer got a late start to go into town for supplies. He arrived, got his supplies, and quickly loaded the wagon so he could make it back home before dark. What do you think happened? You're right. The mule decided it did not want to leave town yet. Jumping down from the wagon seat, the farmer launched into his usual tirade, even though he knew it probably would not make a difference.

Another man was walking by at this time and observed the farmer's emotional eruption. Looking at the farmer, the man said, “You are doing this all wrong. Mules should be treated with gentleness and kindness. You should not yell at a mule or yank on its reins. Be gentle with the animal, and the mule will respond obediently.” At this, the farmer said, “Well, mister, if you think you can do better, be my guest.”

The other man walked up to the mule and began to talk to it in a quiet voice. Then, he reached down, picked up a big stick, and whacked the mule right between the eyes. At this, the mule staggered a bit, but then began to walk forward.

The farmer was grateful that the mule was finally moving, but he was shocked by the man's actions. The farmer shouted at him, “I thought you said the mule should be treated with gentleness and kindness.” The man replied, “It should, but first you have to get its attention.”

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