This is an old adage and refers to offering a combination of reward and punishment to influence desired behavior. It comes from an old practice where a cart driver would tie a carrot on a string attached to a long stick and dangle it in front of the donkey, just out of its reach. The driver also had a stick he used for punishment behind the donkey. The donkey pulled the cart because it wanted the food – always out of reach – and because it want to avoid the pain of the stick.
This approach is used in diplomatic and government policy discussions and actions. I saw a recent on-line news article entitled: “North Korea: US employs carrot and stick diplomacy.”
Consider many religions. As one example, the Christian church holds out the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. Many organized religions influence the desired behaviors of their followers in this way – perhaps by different names. It’s still the carrot and the stick.
How many times in our closest relationships do we employ carrot and stick tactics to influence the desired behavior in the other? If you do this for me, I’ll do that for you – the carrot. If you don’t do this for me, I won’t do that for you – the stick.
The problem with the carrot and the stick is we aren’t donkeys – we’re human beings. Whether it’s our government, our philosophical/religious leaders or the human being closest to us – it just doesn’t work. At least not for long. We may even walk the walk and talk the talk for awhile – some for a lifetime. Inside – at the soul level – we know.
Some people may call it negotiation – some might call it manipulation – some might call it down right cruel. I wonder why we feel we must influence the behavior of another?
We are each free beings with our own choices to make. Be on the lookout in your own life for where you may be using a carrot and a stick or where someone else is attempting to influence your behavior in this way.
The time has come for all the games to end. We have evolved past our donkey stage. Now is the time for honesty, authenticity, responsibility, peace, love, fun, joy.