The above expression has also been expanded to a story or analogy which deepens the lesson. A the story goes, there was once a kingdom where all of the people walked throughout the land barefoot. Even the king and the queen did not wear shoes. Most of the time when the king and the queen left the palace, they were carried on a litter. But one day the queen wished to walk. Reluctantly her attendants lowered the litter and she climbed out. As she walked through the village she cut her foot on a sharp stone. She quickly realized that this must happen to all of her loyal subjects. Dismayed she asked her advisors what could be done to prevent her people from cutting their feet. Her advisors told her that perhaps the entire area could be wrapped with leather. In this way the sharp stones would be covered.
The queen and her entourage returned to the castle and began making plans to cover the village and surrounding areas. The court jester watched all of the planning with amusement. There were long and serious discussions about the size of the village and the amount of leather that would be needed and how to attach the leather firmly to the ground.
Finally the jester could take no more and he called out, “Instead of wrapping the earth with leather, why don’t you all just cover your feet?” After a moment of stunned silence, they all realized that the jester was in fact no fool and he was right. With the proper protection on their feet, the villagers could walk anywhere.
Well rest assured that this is not my attempt to sell you a new pair of shoes.
Here’s a thought, you can spend your time trying to coat the earth with good strong leather. Then you would be able to walk barefoot anywhere and everywhere and never cut your feet. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Wouldn’t you like to walk around knowing that you had full protection all of the time?
Sorry, but you can’t. Of course this is wildly impractical. You can’t cover the earth with leather and protect your feet at all times. You can protect the soles of your feet so that no matter where you walk, you are prepared and you are protected.
You know this is about so much more than your feet, right? You can try to spend your life controlling the people and situations around you so that you never get hurt. In fact you know people who do just that. You recognize them because you call them control freaks. Or perhaps you recognize them because you see that they are afraid of new situations or new places or new people or new food.
Trying to control all of the people and experiences around you is as useless as trying to cover the earth with leather. Why not use your time and energy to strengthen yourself? Prepare yourself for the inevitable life challenge. Build up your skill at dealing with difficult people; be prepared to meet that tough day, head on.
How? You can start by recognizing that the only thing you can control in any situation is yourself. You control your thoughts and your actions and your perceptions. Once you accept this and you strengthen your responses to the challenges in your life; it will be as-if you have placed strong leather on the soles of your feet. You will be protected no matter where you step.