It was hot in the cave. The journey had been long, clandestine and desperate.
He was not a believer, yet all other resources had been depleted and proved of little value, an answer was essential.
Sales had slowed, margins were challenged, competition fierce, the market disrupted: a new strategy and radical tactics were required and no-one knew which path to choose. He could not, and would not, come back empty handed.
And thus he found himself consulting the priestess Pythia, the oracle of Delphi, on the slopes of Mount Parnassus on the shores of the Corinthian Sea, beside trickling spring waters and inhaling stinking vapors from the damp air.
From Aristotle and Sophocles to Cicero and Plutarch, the oracle's sage advice was applauded and well documented.
He wiped his brow and glanced upward at the inscriptions on the temple wall:
γνῶθι σεαυτὸν - “know thyself."
μηδὲν ἄγαν - “nothing in excess.”
He need not worry, excess was no longer an option. Nonetheless he had brought the required donation, which he had extorted from his fellow managers, along with a goat, as prescribed.
His gifts had been offered, his questions written and re-framed by the oracle’s priests, and tendrils of oleander smoke added to oppressive atmosphere.
Now he waited.
In the next chamber, Pythia wore solid gold snake-bracelets on her upper and lower arms. She reclined in her cushioned armchair, the one with turned legs decorated with lions' paws and an eagle arm-support. She was attended to by a young intern who held up the instrument, the gateway to the gods (are those USB ports?).
Marble Naiskos Relief, about 100 B.C., The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
What is the magical device from which the oracle divines veritable and mystical guidance? A hinged mirror, Pandora’s box, jewelry case, or a MacBook Air? You decide.
Do you entrust your critical decision making to an oracle?
For trusted advice we suffer many trials and tribulations and often pay a price far greater than a single goat. Do our advisors rely upon quantitive analysis, qualitative analysis, big data, years of experience, management relationships?
- First, as the oracle prescribes, "Know thy self," and know thy questions.
- Do not allow others to "re-frame" your positions.
- Understand the methods and resources used by your advisors.
- Rationally challenge whether these are the proper resources required for the issues at hand.
- And, most important, choose the right sacrificial goat.
The Greek marble relief in the image belongs to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where it will go on display April 18 for an exhibit called, "Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World.”
YouTube post from "StillSpeakingOut"
(c) David J. Katz - New York City