I recently came across a wonderful story from the book “All I Want To Know Is Where I’m Going To Die So I’ll Never Go There: Buffett & Munger – A Study in Simplicity and Uncommon, Common Sense” by Peter Bevelin that really struck a chord with me.
The story is about a little boy in Texas who was asked a simple arithmetic question by his teacher. The question was, “If there are 9 sheep in the pen and one jumps out, how many are left?”
The other children in the class got the answer right, but the little boy had a different response. He said, “None of them are left.”
The teacher, thinking that the boy didn’t understand arithmetic, corrected him and said, “You don’t understand arithmetic.”
But the little boy replied, “No teacher. You don’t understand sheep.”
The little boy’s response was very insightful. Sheep are known to move in herds and follow each other blindly. If one sheep strays from the path, the others will follow, and none will be left behind. This is why shepherds carry sticks – to keep the sheep on the right track.
The little boy understood the nature of sheep and knew that if one sheep jumps out, all the others would follow. Therefore, none would be left in the pen.
We often think we know everything about a particular subject or situation, but sometimes we don’t. It’s important to step back and examine things from different angles and perspectives, like the little boy did with the sheep.