The Story Of Sid Arthur
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Elsewhere in this magazine you will find a discussion of elephants and how to handle them. That is the central problem of every person's career, from the little fellow who wipes your windshield when you gas up, to the chief executive of the oil company that fills the tank beneath the ground on which that grease monkey stands.

The solution has been with us for many years, laid out by a man of great wisdom and girth who found it by doing what every reader of this magazine does for the greater part of every day: sitting and not thinking. This is the story of that business Buddha.

A very long time ago, or not, there lived a young man in the suburbs of a very great city, or perhaps it was Bridgeport, Conn. Does it matter? Young Sid Arthur was part of a family of rich and powerful businessmen who ruled their metropolitan area in the days before consolidation. The boy was handsome, with a big unruly head of hair, and quite the party animal too.

Sid's father raised him to be a scion of the ruling class. Sid went to Choate, then Yale, and thence to the Wharton School of Business, where he met a lot of really mean people. This, however, did not spoil his native disposition, which was quite pleasant. Indeed, it became clear that there was something different about young Sid. He was kind and gentle, and sometimes demanded a coherent rationale for mergers that would result in human suffering. The boy's father kept a keen eye on him.

One day, while perusing tedious papers, the future Buddha came upon a middle manager being yelled at by the Senior Elephant in charge of Finance. The poor man's shoulders were bent, his eyes were red, and he could scarcely raise his voice to defend himself.

"What is this?" our young hero asked an associate. "Why does that man scream at the other? And why is the other content to suffer such indignities?"

"That," said his associate, "is the way of management from time immemorial, in medieval states, communist dictatorships, and capitalist conference rooms alike."

And so, in his 30th year, Sid Arthur dropped out of corporate life and traveled as a consultant from place to place begging for retainers, hoping to find an end to the suffering caused by elephants. For seven years he sojourned, over and over again coming face to face with the underlying truth--that to labor is to suffer, and probably for too little money.

And then there came a day when he could stand the quest no longer, and he said to himself, "Oh, the heck with it!" He went off on his own into the desert just outside Palm Springs, which is very hot but comfortable, because it is dry heat and you practically can't feel it. His heart heavy within him, he lit a cigar and sat beneath a palm tree and decided he would reconcile himself to the fact that being managed by other people is pain, and there is nothing for it but to quit or learn how to manage the unmanageable.

After finishing his cigar, the Buddha fell into a trance. When he arose the next morning, stiff in his limbs but infinitely light in spirit, he was no longer the business professional who had sat down the day before. The power born of enlightenment radiated from him, and with it the ability to free other men and women from their suffering.

For a time, Buddha considered just chucking the whole thing and taking off for St. Bart's. But he considered. If he did not pass along his wisdom, what had the search been all about? So he met with several friends who had planned to golf with him that day, made them sit down instead, and explained to them the truth that had finally shone upon him. And they listened, and were moved and changed forever. And then they went out and got in nine holes anyhow.

For the next 45 years, Buddha wandered from place to place, never picking up a check unless it was absolutely necessary. Everywhere he went he taught the same simple truths. Here they are in a convenient form your business minds can comprehend.

--We are all one with the corporation. It has no beginning and no end. So relax. Nothing really matters all that much anyway, particularly you.

--We are all incomprehensibly tiny in the eye of the infinite. That includes the gigantic elephant who right now is sitting on your head.

--The elephant has no weight that you do not confer upon it.

--It is the wanting of things that makes us suffer. In the lack of wanting, there is joy. In the end of hope and desire, there is enlightenment.

So give up, okay? There! Doesn't that feel better?

By day, Stanley Bing is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. He can be reached at