#860 You and Your Gordion Knots

Conquering Our Super-Tricky Challenges

Skipping the longer philosophical chat about the ethics of being a conqueror, Today we’re going to chat about Alexander the Great.

More specifically, we’re going to talk about him and a knot.

The Gordion Knot.

You know the story?

Wikipedia tells us that legend has it that, once upon a time, the ancient people known as the Phrygians (who lived in what is now modern Turkey) didn’t have a king.

An oracle declared that the next man to enter their capital city driving an ox-cart would become king. (That’s one way to do it, eh? 😲)

So… A peasant farmer drove an ox-cart into town and, lo and behold, became king.

His name was Gordias.

In gratitude, his son Midas dedicated the ox-cart to the main Phrygian god (kinda like their version of Zeus) and tied it to a post with a super-intricate knot.

As in, “good luck untying THAT knot” kinda knot.

A Roman historian described it as “several knots all so tightly entangled that it was impossible to see how they were fastened.

Fast forward.

Another oracle declares that whoever can unravel the crazy knot would become the ruler of all of Asia. (That’s one way to do it, eh? 😜)

Fast forward.

Many men attempt to unravel the knot. No luck.

Fast forward.

It’s now 333 bce.

Alexander the Great cruises into town. He tries to untie the knot himself and has no luck.


Being Great and all, he just decides to pull out his sword and slice the knot in half with a single blow. (That’s one way to do it, eh? 🤠)

And then, of course, he went on to fulfill the prophecy as he conquered Asia.

Enter: The Gordion Knot.

Back to Wikipedia which tells us: “It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem (untying an impossibly-tangled knot) solved easily by finding an approach to the problem that renders the perceived constraints of the problem moot (‘cutting the Gordian knot’).

That’s Today’s +1.

Got any seemingly impossible knots in your life?

How’s the unraveling going?

Is there, perhaps, a more direct and/or forceful approach to resolving the issue than you may have tried so far?

Here’s a sword.

Just in case it comes in handy.


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