Beware the dreaded 'post turtle'

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Best explanation I’ve heard yet.


A while back I expressed my wonderment of what happens to people when they attain perceived power or status. It’s hard to understand how that feeling of control can alter a person’s ability to be noble, ethical. How does prestige throw a person’s moral compass so far out of whack they lose all integrity?

After pondering that question in the paper I received the following email which explains it perfectly. I had never heard this one before.

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year-old farmer, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to politicians and their role as our leaders.

The old farmer said, “Well, you know, most politicians like Mike Duffy are “post turtles.”

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was.

The old farmer said, “When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a post turtle.”

The old farmer saw the puzzled look on the doctor’s face so the continued to explain.

“You know that turtle didn’t get up there by himself. You know he doesn’t belong up there. He doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there. He’s elevated beyond his ability to function.”

The farmer shrugged and said, “You just have to wonder what kind of fool put him up there to begin with.”

I guess we all know a post turtle or two don’t we? Maybe we have even found ourselves in that position in a job for which we are not quite qualified.  It’s sometimes called the Peter Principle. It’s the code of advancement in your career until you reach a position you are not capable of doing and are left there.  It’s a horrible situation to find yourself in a place you know you shouldn’t’ be, always in fear of being caught or found out. If you have been there you know exactly what a post turtle is.

The really scary aspect of this standard is when that haughty altitude is inhabited by those we have entrusted with our welfare, our leaders.

There are a lot of things that go into our decisions on who we want to in the role of leader. For a lot of folks it’s about connections, hopes, promises, friends and family. We don’t always look at whether that person is actually capable of doing the best job is out of his or her league. Sometimes we just go along with the trends of judgment of others. Many times it’s just a feeling we have about the person which is not based on capacity or competency.

We need to remember this the next time we are faced with a choice during an election whether it is for the prime minister of the country, a local township or county council member, a mayor, president of a club or head of a committee.

We have to start doing better and not be the fools putting turtles on posts.





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