Talking shop to the Nation of the Monkeys
May 27, 2012
Monkeys can play havoc on an oil palm plantation. In certain cases, they can even drive a farmer nuts - wild monkeys that live in the jungle are very different from the variety you would normally find during a weekend bike ride around Bukit Timah – in the jungle, monkeys are very well organized, they have a structure of workers, soldiers and look out monkeys and at the head is the kin pin – it’s hard to get an audience with the big monkey, as he is usually protected by a retinue of loyal body guards. A week or so ago, I decided to venture into a swampy area of my plantation to the Western ridge – this is wild country and with the dry season closing in; I have to especially careful of tigers. As this time of the year they are usually invisible. It’s possible the tiger is collaborating with the big monkey – as the big monkey is quite a crafty fellow that I have grown to respect. He seems to be able to read my dogs; they used to frigthen him. But now he strikes whenever they aren’t around and when they are on patrol, the monkeys just pretend to be picking fleas off each others back while the dogs look menacing at them - the dogs and monkeys seem to have definitely settled on a sort of detente – that may be good for them, but it’s no good to me. As they no longer fight like cats and dogs.
It may seem strange for a man to try to reason with a monkey – but I have done this many times before. One must first sneak up before the monkey tribe like a Ninja and then appear before the big monkey – at first he will look at you – then he will pretend to ignore you. But if you keep breaching their defenses time and again by appearing in the inner sanctum of the monkey nation – and start making your presence felt – it’s a form of psychological warfare that’s bound to disconcert the monkeys. Big monkey will begin to come down hard on his Republican guards – he will ask, why is the human coming and going as he pleases? This is my land – or maybe not! Could it be, it belongs to him? Then the hogs will begin to move out. As they sleep a lot during the day time and since the monkey lookouts aren’t doing a very good job, they give the thumbs down to the big monkey. When that happens, even the elephants wouldn’t respect the authority of the monkey nation. As since they can’t even provide a decent early warning radar, how can the elephants even do the things they do. The whole system begins to get stressed – that is exactly what you want to do, sow the seeds of doubt, corrode their confidence and throw a mind grenade to sharpen the mind game. Then eventually at some point, they will get the message that you might be the bigger monkey – when that happens a show down has to take place – but the trick here is not to allow things to get out of control that war suddenly breakouts. No one wins when that happen. A dumb farmer would shot them; do that and the whole command and control nerve center in the nation of the monkeys gets short circuited and when their communication system breaks down, its impossible to conduct your on going psychological warfare campaign – mind games require a conduit like a co-axial cable, it needs to be transmitted across the ranks – that is exactly what you want to keep the lines of communication open so that you can continue to hollow out their discipline, set them on panic mode by breaching their defenses when their guard is down, breaking through their lines time and again, so that they put so many look out and soldier monkeys to secure the parameter that they don’t even get a chance to relax, shit or even fuck other wonderful under 18 monkeys, to keep them on that nervous edge till it wears down their brains, sinews and resolve – they don’t know exactly what you are doing, when you keep appearing before them by passing their lookouts and guards, but they know enough abt man to realize that he is destructive - and that hopefully is really enough for them to do some simple trade off analysis and conclude this isn’t worth it, it’s best we take our monkey business elsewhere.
I guess this is the same with life – sometimes we come across irritating people. They seem to take delight in take a bite out of our ass every time we see them – and it’s best to simply confront them straight on – to look at them with eyes that burn right into their flesh, bone and tissue – to stand the ground and never leave – and eventually you realize that they have gone off elsewhere.
But if all you do is run away from the demons of your life all the time and never stand up and confront them – then like the nation of the monkeys, they will overwhelm you.
“Palms are planted in neat rows of 9 meters – each palm radiates out from the next in series of hexagons. During the course of a day; the sun will cast 7 distinct type of shadows in this hexagon – if you know how the light behaves at different times and what type of shadows it cast – then it is easy to remain invisible and unseen.
It is the same when we deal with difficult people – many people like to just go up to difficult people and tell them what they think of them. Or maybe just avoid eye contact. I really don’t believe either approach is constructive. I prefer to get close to the person; I will study him and even take notes about his daily habits and the company he keeps – soon I will have a mind map of his social network – then once I have a rough profile. I will try to insert myself somewhere in his daily routine – I will be watching out for opportunities all the time – never revealing too much of myself – then when the time is right, I will strike. I will try to reason with this fellow. But before you can reason – you must know him so well that you already have a strategy of how to approach this conversation – let me share with you the chronology of this strategy. At first it is shock followed by understanding and finally resignation – usually when I take this measured approach things work out very well.
When I was a salaried man. I once worked under a very insecure boss, who always suffered from this perpetual fear that I would raid his job – this man used to give me alot of grief. So one day, I sneaked into his office and closed the door and grabbed him by the collar and told him that, “if he made my life difficult here, I will have to take over his job and if that happens his pretty wife will probably leave him – alternatively, he can leave me alone as I have other plans and I’ll be out of his face in a year.” The man was quite taken aback by this shocking style of how I conveyed to him the facts of life – at first, he threatened to make a scene; but I told him, if he did that, no one would believe him; as I had been very careful to convince everyone that I am not a violent man. I reminded him that my offer still stands, if he decides to make a big deal out of this – I will go for outright war i.e take his job. That hit him like a diamond bullet. As he seemed to actually agonize over the terms of my offer. You see his mind was telling to take it, because it makes so much sense. But his heart or ego, just tore him apart – and I knew this, remember what I said about how one palm is separated from another by 9 meters and how they all radiate outwards to form a series of hexagons – so I made it easier for him. This is the second phase of the strategy, where I appealed to his ego – I told him how I knew he was a double honors and even praised his choice of cars that the rest of the office couldn’t quite figure out. But I knew what it was that fascinated him abt that car. Soon we were talking about cars and he even took out a quart of whisky and insisted that I join him – as it had now become a very interesting conversation. But in my mind;s eye, I was very much like a hunter – you see I had engineered him to feel comfortable with me – and at moments of levity and what I can only describe as top drawer brotherhood class exchanges the matter of considering my offer for peace receded away. Eventually he relented with a wave of the hand with the words, “it’s the only sensible thing to do.” Thereafter he polished off his 5th double malt – he even shared with me the marital problems he was having. I even volunteered to reason with his wife – and even settled it for him. All she needed was a quick turn of the wrench and that more or less settled it – to cut a long story short, we reached a sort of gentlemen’s agreement and even became the best of friends – I think in life, one needs to do this from time to time – invade other people’s personal space in the way tanks roll over the countryside. Not all the time. Or your hair will go white. However we all don’t have any doubts in business, this is sometimes necessary. As a boss if you don’t know how to do this, then you have no business being in that position. As a leader this is something that you defintely need. But before you can do all these things – you must learn the art of how to get into the kill zone without being detected.”