The Three Little Pigs

“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.”

~ Thucydides

The Three Little Pigs

By Jay Rifenbary

“Remember the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs?’ What does it tell us about human beings? It seems that the value of the story lies in its message that foresight, patience, and self-control may not keep the wolf away from your door. However, it he does show up, you’ll be better able to protect yourself. 

All three pigs had the same options, the same mission: Build yourself a shelter, a place you can live in now and in the future. The brother who chose to build his house of straw had the easiest time finding building materials. He also put up his house quickest of all. The brother who chose wood took more time and exerted more effort. He had trees to fell and cut, even before he could begin construction. The brother who build with bricks had a kiln to fashion, a fire to tend, and bricks to mortar. His house took the longest to build, but it was also the strongest.

All of a sudden they were all together; the three brothers now living safely in the brick house. They felt secure when the wolf came and bragged about how his huffing and puffing destroyed their straw and wood homes. They knew he couldn’t do anything to the brick.

The two brothers had lost their homes because they didn’t have the self-discipline to build the best. They wanted instant gratification. 

The brick-building brother was about to be tested. True to form, he sat beside his fire, stoking it. He knew in his quiet, self-controlled way, that the wolf’s lack of self-control would bring about his own end. The wolf, frustrated by his inability to destroy the little pig’s home, lost his self-control. In a last ditch effort to get the pigs, he plunged down the chimney into a boiling vat. It was all over for the wolf!

The fable is a tale of patience. The little pig who built with brick had patience and self-discipline. He wasn’t just building a house, he was building self-control. He prepared himself to survive the showdown. Instead of the wolf eating the little pigs, they ate him. Develop enough self-control and your enemies may make themselves a gift to you!” 

From: Rifenbary, J. (2007).  No excuse! incorporating core values, accountability, and balance into our life and career.  Possibility Press.

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114,


Name the leadership skill you will build this year. What 3 small actions do you commit to making this week to grow this skill?