Thinking Patters: Why the Apple Falls From the Tree

There was once an apple hanging on a tree. Suddenly it fell down to the ground. A little boy near by asked his father, “why did the apple fall from the tree”? His father turned, smiled and said, “son, there are thousands of reasons the apple fell to the ground.” The son asked, “like what”? The father went through each possible reason he could come up with:
The apple was ripe, the sun dried out the stem, gravity, the wind blew, the apple was rotten, a rat nibbled on the tree the night before, a worm bored a hole through the center, a recent freeze weakened the branch causing the apple to fall, the apple was too heavy for its stem, the stem was too weak to hold the apple, a kid the night before shook the tree, the humidity was such that the skin of the apple could no longer hold the apple…the list kept going on and on until the son finally stopped his father saying, “I get it, the apple fell for thousands or even millions of reasons”! The father was satisfied that his point was made.The next day the father arrived at work to hear that a major barge in his division collided with another ship. The initial report stated the captain was asleep at the helm. He immediately fired the captain as he thought the singular cause of the accident was the captain sleeping. He moved forward making decisions for a number of months and another barge collided with a tanker. The captain was asleep at the helm. The father then remembered the conversation with his son regarding the apple tree. The apple fell because of countless variables that are not easily apparent. So too are the events leading to the colliding barges.

What barges in your life are colliding? Do you only see the singular cause or do you see the cumulative causes? Are you seeing the whole slew of possible reasons as to why barges might be colliding? Singular causes and effects do not exist.


-Justin A. Burger, MBA

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