The wonder & wisdom of King Thistle

You can’t work in an organisation of any sort without conflict, tension and affront. The tendency when seemingly wronged is to confront or vent. When complete, the feeling is like two bars of chocolate in the afternoon – an instant, delectable high, followed swiftly by overly prolonged remorse and a battle with the consequences.

Wisdom comes from many sources. Like it or not I get to spend a lot of time watching children’s TV. Overly moral as most of it tends to now be, occasionally the simplicity of a message cuts through decades of igneous coaching. And what a joy that is.

Step forward King Thistle, the absolute monarch whose Royal See is Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom of elves and fairies, where everyone is rather small. He is not the brightest, but never claims to be. He is charismatic but unkempt. In a lazy, underwhelmed and mildly cynical manner, his minimal laissez faire style creates a relaxed and respectful society, where the fairies dispense enchanting (and sometimes calamitous) magic while the humble yet resourceful elves delight in repetitive but dignified, happy toil. His pleasures are simple, but he clearly enjoys the trappings of his office. When called upon – for he could be considered reactive – he exercises judgment underpinned with common sense, and is very happy to acknowledge the expertise and contribution of others. Even when irritated, he remains dignified. In many respects, he is a decent manager.

So when a relatively harmless witch turned his arrogant and opinionated resident Nanny Plum to stone for one too many needless insults, he almost decides to let it pass believing she probably deserved it. When it is pointed out by his daughter Holly that this may mean not being served his favourite evening meal, he reluctantly pays the witch a visit to retrieve the situation. With exceptional manners and calm, a gentle charm and a healthy dose of flattery upon the warty stereotype, Nanny Plum is returned to life.

When Holly asks why he didn’t deal with the witch with all the vengeful force his office entitles, he responds:  “there’s a time for telling someone they’re smelly and ugly, and a time for being just – nice” – reflecting a little further that “saying nice things about people goes a long way”.

If you can take a deep breath when the red mist rises and construct a more sensible response, just imagine what might be possible. When faced with such a situation just ask yourself – what would King Thistle do now?


One thought on “The wonder & wisdom of King Thistle

  1. Lovely story.

    King Thistle clearly employs Wilson’s first principle of Leadership, (borrowed from Francois Picabia), “Do at little as possible to get the effect you want.” Think how much energy, time and interference we could all save!

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