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The 18th Camel

Many years ago, an old man died and left his camels to his three sons; one-half to the oldest, one-third to the second son, and one-ninth to the youngest. However, there was a problem, he had only 17 camels.

The three sons got into an intense negotiation over who should get how many, because 17 doesn’t divide by two, or by three, or by nine.

In time, tempers became very strained.  In an effort to resolve the situation, they finally agreed to go to a wise old woman in the community. She listened to their problem and after some time says, “Well, I don’t know if I can help you, but if you want, at least you can have my camel.  Then you will have 18 camels and you can divide them among the three of you.”

Accepting her offer the brothers gave half (or 9) of the 18 camels to the eldest son, a third (or 6) of them to the second son and a ninth (or 2) of them to the youngest son. One camel remained. There is one camel left over, so the brothers give it back to the woman.

Many of our challenges and conflicts today are like those 17 camels — they seem impossible to resolve, with no apparent solution in sight.

Sometimes we just need more imaginative ways to overcome our problems. Every problem has a solution! What we need to do is step back from the situation, look at it through a fresh lens, and come up with an 18th camel.

What is your 18th camel?