Yesterday, I spoke on the phone to a potential new client after listening to his voice mail asking me to call back.

In his voice mail message, I could clearly hear the pain and resignation in his voice as he described his need to get his tax filings caught up.

This is something I experience a great deal; people who are afraid, resigned, and reluctant to report to the IRS. From whence does this fearfulness come?

One of my dearest friends has a horrible opinion of any regulating organization, especially the IRS. After having met his mother, it’s very clear to me from whence this reasoning stems.

The IRS is an organization that does what it is set up to do. Nothing more, nothing less. It is staffed by people who are working a job, just like anyone else. Unlike a collection agency, they are just comparing paper filings with what is established by Congress as the law, and reporting back about inaccuracies and asking for payment.

The other day, I was helping a friend work on an organizational development project and I told him an anecdote that this morning I found in an old email folder - it goes like this:

Start with a cage containing five monkeys.  In the cage, hang a banana on a
string and put 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 of the monkeys are sprayed
with cold water.  Pretty soon, when any monkey tries to climb the stairs, the
other monkeys will try to prevent it.  Now, turn off the cold water.  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 horror, all of 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 another one.  The newcomer goes to
the stairs and is attacked.  The previous newcomer takes part in the
punishment with enthusiasm.  Again, replace a third original monkey with a
new one.  The new one makes it to the stairs and it attacked as well.  Two of
the four monkeys that beat 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 the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the
monkeys which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced.
Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.  Why not?  Because
that's the way it's always been around here, and that's how company policy
begins...
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