The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

Number 47

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

Until a few years ago, I was always rather confused when it came to the old adage ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. It perplexed me that a single piece of practically weightless straw could do such damage to the desert’s equivalent of a monster truck. It wasn’t until I travelled to the Middle East and asked one of the locals about the actual meaning of this saying that I came to understand the true depth of the phrase.

I was told that apparently, a straw really did break a camel’s back. The camel had been piled up with so many loads of bags, sacks, pots, rugs and other items that when the final handful of straw was placed on top, the camel simply collapsed.

I often feel just like that fully laden camel must have felt. There are times when I feel like I am so heavily loaded with not sacks of rice and bags of wheat like the camel, but with approaching deadlines, feelings of frustration, organisational disagreements, differing of opinions and so on. And there seems to be a reverse correlation between the heavier my load gets and the less I express my frustrations. Because unlike the camel, I have the ability to express the reasons why my ‘back is breaking’ and do something about it. It all comes down to another adage: Confront or Conflict.

Never be afraid to confront issues before they become conflicts, especially if the other person involved is a close friend, colleague or relative. True friends are those who tell you how they really feel. We may hear good news every day from strangers, but it takes a true friend to be comfortable enough to confront you with your best interests at heart.

Before our load becomes too heavy, we must try to remember that if someone’s actions are causing us frustration, or if a friend, family member or colleague is doing something that annoys us, we must confront the issue before it turns into a conflict. In other words, we must speak up before a whole lot of issues build up on our back to the point where one small and somewhat insignificant matter becomes our proverbial ‘straw’. There is a limit to how much people can bear, we must be vocal about this limit.

Please take a moment to ponder… if we do not confront what is annoying us, it will inevitably lead to conflict. And if we are confident enough and comfortable enough to confront those things, then we must remember that it is the issue, not the person, that we are confronting.

Improve your management and leadership style; enhance your communication skills; and resolve the issues that are piling up and becoming a burden. Confront or you will conflict.


Joseph Bismark

Group Managing Director, QI Ltd

One thought on “The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

  1. Dear Mr. Bismark

    I would like to express many thanks on behalf of all
    QI IRs from Kazakhstan, Almaty. Thank you for being with all of us even through hundreds of miles. This is real support we can feel.
    Sometimes we do not stop to think over though the biggest wasting of time is when we have no time to ponder.
    Thank you for reminding this.

    warmest regards, Botagoz.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *