Performance Perspectives Blog

Learning from Cervantes

by | Jan 11, 2013

I am reading, or more correctly, listening to, the classic, Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes. It is a massive work, which rightly deseves the praise it has received.

Perhaps not surprisingly, if you’ve been a reader of my commentary for long, I have found something within this text to apply here.

In Part II, Chapter 18, we are introduced to Don Lorenzo, a young poet, who is perplexed by Don Quixote’s apparent madness, and yet at the same time, great ability at discourse. He asks Don Quixote, “What sciences have you studied?” And the knight’s reply is as follows:

“That of Knight Errantry, which is as good as poetry, and a finger or two above it. It is a science that comprehends within itself, all or most of the sciences in the world. For he who professes it must be a jurist, and must know the rules of justice; distributive and equitable, so as to give each one what belongs to him and is due to him. He must be a theologian, so as to give a clear and distinctive reason for the Christian faith he professes, wherever it may be asked of him. He must be a physician, and above all a herbalist, so as in wastes and solitudes to know the herbs that have the property of healing wounds, for a knight errant must not go looking for someone to cure him at every step. He must be an astronomer, so as to know by the stars how many hours of the night have passed and what climate and quarter of the world he is in. He must know mathematics, for at every turn, some occasion will present itself to him. And, putting it aside that he must be adorned with all the virtues, cardinal and theological, to come down to minor particulars. He must, I say, be able to swim as well as Nicholas or Nicolau the fish could, as the story goes. He must know how to shoe a horse, and repair his saddle and bridle. And, to return to higher matters, he must be faithful to God and to his lady. He must be pure in thought, decorous in words, generous in works, valiant in deeds, patient in suffering, compassionate towards the needy, and lastly, an upholder of the truth, though its defense should cost him his life. Of all these qualities, great and small, is a true knight errant made of.”
Quite a clear and detailed description of the qualities a knight errant is to possess, yes?
And so, if you were to be asked, what are the qualities that a performance measurement professional should possess, how would you reply? Please contemplate this, as I will take this up in this month’s newsletter.

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