Sunday, February 19, 2017

Story of the “Sundial”

Inspirational Story


Long ago  there was once a King who cared for his populace.

His kingdom was in an undeveloped part of the world – and the people were very backward. 

The King wanted his people to progress. 

So  the King decided to visit the developed part of the world  to see for himself how he could harness the fruits of development for his people.

During his visit to a developed country he saw a sundial. 

Curious  he asked the local people what this strange contraption was.

“A sundial is a device that determines the time of day by the position of the Sun. You can tell the time by looking at the shadow cast by the Sun as it shines on the pointer of a sundial. As the sun moves across the sky  the shadow-edge aligns with different hour-lines. Thus  you can tell the time of the day...” they told him,

The King was fascinated as he witnessed the working of sundial.

The next day – he bought the sundial.

The King took the sundial back to his Kingdom.

He had the sundial installed in the town-square of the city as a gift for his people.

The sundial changed the life of the people in the kingdom. 

They began to differentiate parts of the day.

Thanks to the sundial – the people became time-conscious.

They started to divide up their time and plan their work accordingly.

In short  they became adept at time management  and became more efficient.

The sundial made the people of that kingdom conscious about the concept of time.

Before the advent of the sundial  they knew only about night and day. 

The populace became more punctual, prompt, orderly, reliable and industrious  thereby producing great wealth  and achieving a high standard of living.

The sundial had enabled them to realize the importance of the adroit use of time  which resulted in great prosperity for the people of the kingdom.

One day  the King died.

After giving their King a grand funeral  his devoted subjects gathered together in the town-square to decide how they could pay a fitting tribute to their beloved King.

When they enumerated the King’s achievements  they all thought of the Sundial  which their benevolent King had gifted them long back.

They looked at the magnificent sundial installed in the town-square.

The Sundial symbolized the King’s generosity and love towards his people.

The Sundial which was the main reason for their prosperity and success.

So  as a fitting tribute to their departed king – the citizens decided to build a grand temple with a golden cupola around the Sundial.

Yes – the people unanimously decided to build a fabulous temple  with a beautiful golden dome to adorn the sundial. 

Everyone thought that this magnificent temple adoring the sundial would be a fitting honour to their departed King  since the sundial was the best gift he had given them.

Soon the awe-inspiring temple  with a dazzling golden dome  was built around the sundial.

But  when the magnificent temple was built  and the imposing golden cupola soared above the sundial  the rays of the sun could no longer reach the gnomon of the sundial.

Yes  since the sundial was now completely covered by the magnificent temple with its impressive golden dome  the sun’s rays could not reach the sundial  and the shadow disappeared.

Now the fully covered sundial did not work – since its shadow had vanished

It was the shadow which had told the time to the citizens of the kingdom.

But now  there was no shadow to indicate the time of the day.

Now  since the sundial did not work  the citizens could not discern the time of the day  and so  they started losing their sense of punctuality and promptness.

Deprived of their standard of time  they forgot about the importance of time.

The people forgot about time management. 

Soon  the citizens of the kingdom soon reverted back to their old lazy unpunctual ways.

And  they started adopting their erstwhile disorganized laid-back lifestyle of the pre-sundial days.

It was just a matter of time before their prosperity dissipated away  and the kingdom collapsed.


The metaphor of the Sundial Story is relevant in so many aspects of life.

When you communicate  imagine that the person talking is the sun  and the person listening is the sundial  and the temple represents the barriers to communication. 

In marriage  the seamless relationship between husband (Sun) and wife (Sundial) can be encumbered by “obstructions” like your parents, in-laws, children – or intangibles like – ego – mindsets – attitudes – social mores  or  the baggage of the past.

If you look at our education system  the Teacher (Sun) is not allowed to illuminate the Students (Sundial)  because of the Education System (Obstruction). 

Let me elaborate on this example.

Imagine that the Sun is a Teacher and the Sundial is the Student.

If you allow the Sun (Teacher) to seamlessly illuminate the Sundial (Student)  then the best learning will take place. 

But if you put a barrier or obstruction between the teacher and student (like covering the sundial with a structure of temple and dome)  this can badly impede the learning process. 

This “obstacle” can be the “education system”, the “administrative hierarchy”, the “rules, regulations and red tape”, the “academic environment” in the particular place  anything which is detrimental to seamless teaching and effective learning. 

I have experienced this phenomenon during my teaching days.

I have also experienced this many times in my career  when I was hindered from delivering my best because of barriers – as exemplified by the sundial metaphor.

You can see examples of this “Sundial Phenomenon” everywhere  especially at your workplace  hindering inter-personal relationships  and acting as a barrier to effective communication.

Even within your internal self  there can be taboos, hang-ups, phobias, complexes, values and beliefs  which act as internal “impediments” – and inhibit you from realizing your full potential.

Apart from red tape, rules and regulations  sometimes  things like Rituals, Customs and Traditions, Cultural and Societal Pressures can also be akin to the “cupola dome” between “Sun” and “Sundial” – and hamper your aspirations.

If you observe carefully  you will see this metaphor of the sundial in all aspects of life. 

Indeed this sundial phenomenon is prevalent in all aspects of management – especially relationship management - both in inter-personal and intra-personal relationships. 

Remember the story of the sundial  and think about this phenomenon  and how it will affect seamless communication when you are thinking of outsourcing customer relationship management or consumer care or any process via ITES or BPO.

Sometimes  these “temples” you build to cover your “sundials” – may be well-meaning with good intentions.

It is for you to ensure that you do not build “temples” around “sundials” – you must let the “sun” shine brightly and unhindered on your “sundial”.

And  it is for the powers-that-be to ensure that they do not “build temples” around “sundials”  which act as a barriers to efficiency and progress.

We must let the “sun” shine brightly and unhindered on the “sundial”.

Think about the Sundial Story.

Let the metaphors perambulate in your mind.

Look around  and apply the allegory to your real life  and – try to remove barriers  and let the “sun” shine brightly and unhindered on the “sundial”. 

Yes – let the “sun” shine brightly and unhindered on your “sundial”

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All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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