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Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter

Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individual – the stirrer, the arrogant underling, the poisoned of goodwill. If you allow such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence. Do not wait for the troubles they cause to multiply, do not try to negotiate with them – they are irredeemable. Neutralize their influence by isolating or banishing them. Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter.

In the past, nations would be run by a king and his ministers. Only the elite had any power. Over time, power has become more diffused and democratized. This has created a common misperception that groups no longer have centers of power - that power is spread out and scattered among many people. Actually, power has changed in its numbers, but not in its essence. There may be fewer tyrantscommanding the power of life and eath over millions, but thousands of petty tyrants remain, ruling smaller realms, and enforcing their will through indirect power games, charisma, and so on. In every group, power is concentrated in the hands of onez or two people, for this is one area, in which human nature will never change: people will congregate around a singe strong personality, like planets orbiting a sun.

When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter.
Chinese saying

To live with the illusion that this kind of power does not exist is to make endless mistakes, waste energy and time. Powerful people never waste time. Outwardly, they may play along with the game - pretending that power is shared among many - but, inwardly, they monitor the few in the group, who hold the cards, for these are the ones, on whom they work. When troubles arise, they look for the underlying cause, the single strong character, who is responsible for the trouble and whose isolation or banishment will settle things.

Once upon a time, the wolves sent an emissary to the sheep, desiring that there might be peace between them. "Why," said they, "should we be forever waging this deadly strife? Those wicked dogs are the cause of all; they are incessantly barking at us and provoking us. Send them away and there will no longer be any obsatcle to our eternal friendship and peace."
The silly sheep listened. The dogs were dismissed and the flock, thus deprived of their best protectors, became an easy prey to their treacherous enemy.

In his family therapy practice, Dr Milton Erickson found that if the family dynamic was unsettled and dysfunctional, there was always one person, who was the troublemaker. In his sessions, he would symbolically isolate this family member, be seating him or her apart from the others, if only by a few feet. Slowly, the other family members would see the physically separate person as the source of their difficulty. Once the troublemaker is recognized, identifying him to the others will accomplish a great deal. Remempber: troublemakers thrive by hiding within a group, disguising their actions among the reactions of others. Render their actions visible and they lose their power.

A key element, in games of strategy, is isolating the opponent's power. In chess, you try to capture the king. In the Chinese game of GO, you isolate the opponent's forces in small pockets, renering them immobile and ineffectual. In is often better to isolate your opponents, rather than destroying them. The result is the same, for in the game of power, isolation means death.

Imagine a flock of sheep. Do not waste time trying to steal a sheep or two. Do not risk life and limb by opposing the dogs that guard the flock. Aim at the shepherd. Lure him away and the dogs will follow. Stike him down and the flock is yours.

The most effective form of isolation is to separate the troublemakers from their power base. When Mao Tse-tung wished to eliminate an opponent in the ruling elite, he did not confront the person directly; he silently isolated the man, divided his allies and turned them away from him, shrinking his suport. Soon, the man would vanish.

Finally, the reason you strike at the shepherd is because such an action will discourage the sheep beyond any rational measure. With the leader gone, the center is gone and there is nothing to revolve around. Aim at the leaders, bring them down and look for the endless opportunities in the ensuin confusion.

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