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A traditional way to catch monkeys, is to put a pretty trinket in a jar, fastened to a tree. The fascinated monkey reaches inside the jar to grab the trinket. Once it has grasped the trinket, the monkey will hang onto it and refuse to let go, even as captors approach.

People/Individuals do the same thing – they hang onto conditions, people, circumstances, ideas, or control habits that no longer serve them.

In psychological terms, such ‘hanging on’ is referred to as an addiction. Addiction, by definition, differs from a habit because it brings negative wellbeing impacts. An addiction is the individual’s inability to stop doing something even when that activity is destroying their life or job or business.

The word ‘addiction’ has usually been linked with substances such as drugs or alcohol. But managers in a company can be addicted to many other things as well. Managing into crisis is an addiction. Anxiety about standards is addiction. Refusal to plan is addiction.

Addicted individuals have no boundaries. Boundaries are what establish the mental, emotional, and physical limits that people need to prosper and maintain health within. Without boundaries, individuals are incapable of saying ‘No’ to anyone or anything that intrudes upon them. This includes saying ‘No’ to a healthier work style.

Firm Policies

Policies that establish the boundaries are needed to overcome addictive tendencies in organisation likewise. Through strong policies, the organisation gains enough coherence to bring the corporate self-image into line and control emerging addictive behaviours.


Given the right information and tools, you can learn to set, or re-set, your invisible boundary protection. This is akin to equipping yourself with a Perspex riot shield or personal bubble. You can see what is coming at you. But you are safe and do not have to respond, or feel a thing.

Reading: Loretta Ferrier, Dance of the Selves. Simon & Schuster, 1992.

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