“There is no prophet who has not tended sheep.” So goes a famous phrase in Islamic scripture, words that had long intrigued young MBA student AlBaraa Taibah. How does shepherding awaken one’s wisdom? Empower one’s leadership skills? Build one’s character? Why was shepherding the starting point for great leaders like Mohammed, Moses and Abraham? There must be a reason and lessons in shepherding to take away, he reasoned.
So AlBaraa made the decision to become a modern-day shepherd, to spend ten days alone with a herd of sheep in the Sahara Desert, attempting to learn what the scripture was talking about. Confronting the dangers of desert snakes, getting hopelessly lost in the dunes and nearly dying from dehydration, on the first day he asks himself, “Why didn’t I just take that leadership course back in Boston?”
What transpires is an adventure and a journey into consciousness that is as poetic and funny as it is profound. The Modern Shepherd is a journal of discovery and a leadership textbook unlike any other. Learn and laugh with AlBaraa as he acquires the secrets of being an effective leader from a stubborn flock of sheep.
When we first got the book we have to say that at first we did a double take and wondered if it was a new Monty Python book. No though, it’s a serious book, with serious intent. The book is put together well, with lovely images, of sheep as you can imagine, and the pages have a nice feel to them. However the book comes in at under one hundred pages and you do reach the end and then wonder, huh! did I miss something?
You can see that it is aimed to be slightly parable like, and he did get some insights from his time in the desert, though with only ten days out in the desert this has perhaps contributed to the brevity of the insights on offer. There are aspects to like in the book, and yet at times you also felt that you came away not knowing much about either shepherding nor business. Overall, as mentioned it is a lovely book as an object, and his intent is good, but you did find yourself wanting the book to dig into a little more detail about his chosen topics. His reference of the prophets at the beginning is a good one, that you can learn a lot from sheep (one of our sheep keeping neighbours for example says they are always finding new ways to accidentally kill themselves). From here on it would have been good to have had a little more exposition of what he learned and how it applied to the business, or sheep tending worlds.