The 18th Horse

A Norwegian farmer, Lars Larson, died leaving his 17 horses to his three sons. When his sons opened up the Will it read:

My eldest son Lars Jr. should get 1/2 (half) of total horses;
My middle son Ole should be given 1/3rd (one-third) of the total horses;
My youngest son Sven should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the total horses.

As it’s impossible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the three Norwegian sons started to fight with each other. So, they decided to go to a Swedish farmer neighbor, Jon Hedberg of Stockholm, Minnesota, whom they admired for being very smart to see if he could work it out for them.

Jon read the Will patiently, after giving due thought, he brought one of his own horses over and added it to the 17. That increased the total to 18 horses.

Now, he divided the horses according to their father’s Will.
Half of 18 = 9. He gave son Lars Jr. 9 horses.
1/3rd of 18 = 6. He gave 2nd son Ole 6 horses.
1/9th of 18 = 2. He gave the youngest son, Sven 2 horses.

Now add up how many horses they have:
Eldest son 9
Middle son 6
Youngest son 2

Total = 17

Now this leaves one horse over, so the really smart Swede, Jon Hedberg, takes his horse back to his farm.

Problem solved!

The attitude of negotiation and problem solving is to find the “18th horse”, that is “the common ground”. Once a person is able to find the 18th horse, the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times, however, to reach a solution. If we think there is no solution we won’t ever be able to reach a solution. Wouldn’t it be nice if all our politicians could do smart Swedish farmers math?

Keep your fork


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