This is a story I used to share in several of my presentations. It makes a point that most cattlemen need to hear.
First, you start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water.
After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, put the cold water away…
Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked – and the previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey, then a fourth, and then the fifth.
Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. All of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey will ever again approach the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know, that’s the way it’s always been done around here.
And that, my dear friends… is how many ranch traditions get started.