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  • Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The Need for Flexibility

A man came into a shop intent on buying some cloth. Choosing a suitable piece was no problem, but fixing a price was, for in eastern countries one usually has to bargain before buying anything. This time, the bargaining was tough. Neither the shopkeeper nor the customer was willing to budge from his original price. Finally, after holding out adamantly for half-an-hour, it was the shopkeeper who gave in, coming right down to the customer’s price, thus clinching the deal.

A friend of the shopkeeper’s was in the shop at the time. After the customer had left he asked, “Why waste so much time over the price, when you were ready to give it at the customer’s price all along?” “You missed the point,” the shopkeeper replied. “That was my way of clinching the deal. Why, if I had agreed to the customer’s price straightway, he would have thought—’Oh, I might be able to get the cloth even cheaper somewhere else’— and gone off. Anyway, I wanted to know how far he was willing to go. When I realized that he was not willing to budge even an inch, I saw that I was the one who would have to give in. So I sold him the cloth at his price.”

So it is with any contest in life. Quite naturally, each party wishes to settle the matter to his own satisfaction. It is only sensible, then, for him to press his demands. But, at the same time, common sense requires him to know what his limits are, i.e. how far he can go without losing anything himself—or sending his customer away dissatisfied.

Here we have a basic principle of life. It can be put in one word—adjustment.

Adjustability is the key to success in life, both for individuals and for nations. We can define adjustability as taking into account the needs of others besides one’s own. In this world, success comes the way of one who is able to see both sides of a coin, to look at matters from another’s point of view as well as from his own. Those who only know what they want, and go all the way to achieve it, irrespective of others’ needs, will find their path through life strewn with obstacles and pitfalls, and it will be little wonder if they come to grief.

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