Creativity, Leadership, Motivation, Perspective

A tale of two brothers

Today’s post is a little different than my usual posts.  A little less pondering and a little more creative and focused thinking. It’s a riddle; a typical think outside the box to find the solution type of challenge. The answer can be transferred to the workplace or home when face with challenges where the most obvious answer no longer applies.


The king had two sons. Each had a marvelous and fast horse. And, of course, each believed his own horse to be the fastest in the kingdom. One day the king gave the princes a challenge. He told them, “One day I will pass to the kingdom beyond the veil and when I do this kingdom will belong to one of you. But, I am unsure which of you should rule after me. Therefore I have devised a test to determine which of you should succeed me. Each of you believes his horse is the fastest in the kingdom. Tomorrow at dawn you will race your horses against one another. From the Eastern gate you will ride toward the rising sun to the old oasis and return. But there is a twist, although each of your horses runs like the wind, it is the horse who returns last whose owner will sit on my throne when I am among our ancestors. A king must be brave and strong, but he must also be wise. Think well on this and I will meet you in the morning.”

Before dawn both brothers were at the gate. In spite of the early hour a large crowd had gathered and soon bets were being taken as to which son would win the race and be the next king. Mounted on their steeds, both princes were splendidly adorned and their horses were sleek and fierce.

The king looked down from his castle at the crowd and the two young men and said, “Remember the challenge. The winner is the one whose horse crosses the finish line last. Good luck and may the best man win.” With that he clapped his hands and the race began.

With a shout each prince urged his steed forward and they took off like a shot. Their pace was so quick that the crowds rapidly dissipated as the young men were soon out of sight. Neck to neck, the two princes raced along toward the oasis. But, as the oasis came into view in the distance the boys began to slow the pace of their horses; first from a gallop to a canter, then to a trot and finally to a slow walk. Entering the oasis they dismounted their horses, led them to the watering hole and began to talk between themselves about their dilemma. How was it possible to win a race when winning meant being the slowest? Pondering this question they noticed an old man sitting near the water weaving a basket. They decided to ask him for advice. After listening to the princes, the wise old man nodded sagely, pursed his lips then said two words. Upon hearing these words the young men looked at each other, jumped up, sped to their horses and mounting the steeds galloped away as quickly as they could back toward the city.

The question is of course – What were the two words the wise old man told the princes that prompted them to resume the race?


Good luck and enjoy :-)!


One thought on “A tale of two brothers

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