Managing change by shaking off and stepping up

The phrase “change is the only constant” has never been more apt than in the current environment where we constantly hear stories about cuts, increased overheads and competitive pressures. How we deal with change will determine our future success.

Last week I was sent an email by a friend who was informing me, that for various reasons, he was leaving his employment and looking for a new challenge. In the message he sent he shared a powerful metaphor that sums up the attitudes that can be extremely helpful when dealing with change – in whatever shape it comes.

It’s not important whether we agree or disagree with the farmer in the story as it is the gist of the story that is really important.


Once there was a farmer who owned an old mule that accidentally fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule ‘braying’ or whatever mules do when they fall into wells.

After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbours together and told them what had happened … and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbours continued shovelling and the dirt hit his back … a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back … HE SHOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP!

This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up … shake it off and step up … shake it off and step up!” He repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought “panic” and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!

You’re right! It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, STEPPED TRIUMPHANTLY OVER THE WALL OF THAT WELL!

What seemed would bury him, actually blessed him … all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.


If we face our problems and respond to them positively, refusing to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity, we can overcome them and move on to a life of luxury.

The adversities that come along to bury us usually have within them, the potential to benefit and bless us!

(Couleur @

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