Glass Half Full

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Glass of WaterThe business executive was considering the strategic direction of his company, and consulted with an expert in strategy, uncertainty and complexity. “I need to know,” the executive said, “whether we’re going to have a quick recovery from this recession, or if it’s going to get even worse”.

The consultant, who had been keeping up with the latest trends, suggested that rather on relying on economists, who were almost invariably wrong, the executive should assemble a diverse group of people and draw upon the Wisdom of Crowds.

So an invitation was issued to some of the brightest people in the nation from all walks of life, and soon dozens of people congregated in the executive’s conference room. The conference facilitator, who was a whiz with metaphors, welcomed everyone and then said to the amassed group: “There is an old  proverb that says that, when looking at a glass like this one” (he held up the glass in the picture), “the optimist will see it as half full, while the pessimist will see it as half empty. We would like to know how you see it.”

First to speak was an Appreciative Inquiry Specialist who said, “I wonder how it got half full? Because if we could figure that out, we could get it all the way full!”

Then a scientist replied “The glass is simply twice as large as it needs to be.”

Next an environmentalist piped up: “If it’s tap water, the glass is half full; if it’s bottled water, the glass is half empty.”

A doctor intoned “Pessimism correlates with stress-related diseases that can shorten your life by up to twenty years, so if you know what’s good for you, you had better see this glass as at least half full.”

An accountant in the group asked “How full or empty would you like it to be?”

A statistician shook his head, and, holding up a chart, explained “At no point is the glass precisely half full or half empty, because the water is constantly evaporating.”

Next up was a lawyer who said “We have no comment at this time regarding the fullness or emptiness of the alleged glass.”

And then a banker chimed in “If you consider the leverage opportunity we’ve created by allowing more air space into the glass, it’s clear that the glass is full to overflowing, but there remains considerable opportunity for it to become even fuller, without limit, indefinitely. And if not, we are more than willing to loan you a second glass on what we think are very reasonable terms, given your credit history.”

A new immigrant said “Where I come from we have no glasses, and nothing to put in them, so by comparison this glass looks very full to me.”

A former billionaire who had lost three fourths of his wealth retorted “Hey, I think that’s my glass, where did you get it? And when I last saw it it was full. And it was a bigger glass!”

A politician from the party in power drew himself up and proclaimed “Despite the fact that the previous administration neglected this glass disgracefully, we have made it a priority to ensure that the fullness of all glasses everywhere is and will be maximized.”

But a politician from the opposition party replied “Despite the hard work of the citizens of our country, the current administration continues to shamefully allow this glass, and all glasses across this great country of ours, to be drained to the point of exhaustion.”

A conspiracy theorist with a frightened look went even further, saying “The government has cynically changed the way volume statistics are collected, to the point that any measure of fullness or emptyness is now meaningless.”

A psychiatrist replied patronizingly “The glass, of course, represents the womb, and so one’s perception of its emptiness or fullness will be affected by one’s desire to return to that womb, by the experiences one had while in the womb. And, I need not add, by the degree of one’s fear of drowning.”

A philosopher stroked his beard and inquired of the group: “At certain times, this glass has probably been full, and at other times empty, and at other times still all gradients of fullness and emptiness. And since time is ephemeral and flowing, who is to say what its state is, or even if the glass itself is merely an illusion, a construct of our imaginations?”

But a sports commentator interrupted and blurted out “Well, we’ve certainly never seen a glass do this before, at least not in these circumstances, and folks, you may be seeing one for the ages.”

Finally a Taoist said quietly: “The glass simply is what it is, and so is what is contained in it.”

Others in turn expressed their views, and finally the expert consultant thanked them all and declared the conference concluded. When the guests had all left, the executive said to the expert: “Well, now we’ve heard the Wisdom of Crowds; is the glass half full or half empty?”

“Yes,” said the expert. “Please let us know if we can be of further assistance in future.”

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6 Responses to Glass Half Full

  1. Srinath VJ says:

    Wow! This is a really good one! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.Life can be soooo like fiction sometimes…:)

  2. EJ says:

    Deep ecologist says let the water out of the glass for all species to share.Water district manager says we can use that water 5 times, so everyone can irrigate as much as they want.

  3. prad says:

    that was hilarious and delightful!

  4. Jon Husband says:

    Well, when you ‘stitch’ all the replies together, I think there is some wisdom in all the angles presented by ‘the crowd’, and after reading or listening to all the responses, for me it is easy to feel enriched … and “Yes” is the perfect answer, enriched by all the additional context.

  5. Janene says:

    Hey –I needed this today, Dave… good stuff :-)tp

  6. Paris says:

    Neither full, neither empty, barely in an intermediate state for which our gross language has no right concept.Average folk do not have enough brain power to grasp all the possibilities which lie in between two fixed concepts, therefore our basic words are less than adequate to describe a complex reality…But you know Dave how our feelings are much more apt to this task! So what do you feel about that glass? enough to quench your thirst??

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