Lingchi (Chinese for lingering death) was a horrendous torture method used for hundreds of years before being banned in the early twentieth century (I know, that recent).

It’s horrendous and I’ll leave the detail to your imagination.

We often think something ‘suddenly’ happens, but could the truth be that we killed it with 1,000 cuts?

The family business transitioning to the next generation.  The new owners are happy to take some shortcuts (and cash). And ‘suddenly’ the business no longer exists

The relationship that suddenly deteriorates. Not because of one big plate-smashing argument, but 1,000 small criticisms and few compliments.

Just one more slice can’t hurt anyone. Suddenly you can’t fasten that middle button.

Customer service standards fall – just slightly.  Suddenly (previously loyal) customers are wooed to go elsewhere.

A restaurant saves a few quid on the quality of ingredients – good for the bottom line – then suddenly there are complaints and empty tables.

The manager who lets their ‘favourite’ get away with sloppy behaviour and suddenly has a problem in their whole team.

I’ll do it tomorrow. Procrastination creeps in and suddenly tomorrow ends up being never.

It’s rarely one big thing that destroys something; it’s the intangible, the unsaid, unchallenged and micro which builds up to the macro.

Don’t let 1,000 cuts take away what’s important to you (and please leave any comments below).

Be Brilliant!


PS I’m very excited to announce that Write That Book is coming back in November. I’ll email everyone the details next week and then will only message people who are interested.

If that’s you, then make sure you’ve joined the list of those who’d like to know more about Write That Book by clicking here.


  1. October 22nd 2020 by Margaraet Whittaker

    This is a briliant concept. I consciously decided not to procrastinate and did all the chores I could in one day, anything with future entanglements was brought up to scratch ready to carry on when appropriate. I only use creative criticism and lavish praise where where appropriate but many do not think to compliment for good service, just criticise for bad. I have had quite a few little cards actually thanking me for my kindness or something I did that went a step further than necessary. I wholeheartedly support Michaels philosophy on the way we treat others, people feel loved and that is returned many times over. This letter today puts it all into a nutshell. Thank you.

  2. October 22nd 2020 by John Naylor

    So true! Often happens when leadership changes.

  3. October 22nd 2020 by Darren Hall

    What a great post and how very true….and quite often comes about by inertia….

  4. October 22nd 2020 by Dave Rogers

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. At work I’ve been challenged over the last 10 days, with all the changes and struggles I am seeing my beloved hospitality industry. It genuinely feels like we at cuts 998 and 999 at the moment. I have flipped it and made sure that I am cracking on with what fires me up personally, no more procrastination!

  5. October 22nd 2020 by Hamish

    We recently ate out at a local restaurant we had not previously tried. It was slightly disappointing but not bad. The main courses were both slightly overcooked. We could have shrugged our shoulders and said the chef had had a bad night. What was unacceptable was the ice cream wafer that came with my wife’s dessert. The cheapest of the cheap for a top priced dessert. It was the sort of thing you buy by the gross from Lidl for next to nothing. Surely, they could have bought in something with a bit of style and colour and served it with some flamboyance that made the whole thing fun and enjoyable. Instead, all we wanted to do was get up and leave, never to return.

  6. October 22nd 2020 by Pasquale Scornaienchi

    Totally agree and regretfully have been guilty of a few extra cuts along the way.

  7. October 22nd 2020 by Lynton Lomas

    Sadly this is so true I have another twist on this as we try to do things how we did it last year. But in this post Covid world the supply chain and back up is not there. We need to under promise and over achieve. And be pro active not reactive. Customers are used to a standard and we need to explain if it’s going to be different.

  8. October 22nd 2020 by Christine Beech

    So true – this reminded me of a verse from Song of Solomon. Chp 2:15: ‘Beware the little foxes, that spoil the vines.’
    The little foxes represent those things in our lives that seem to be small and insignificant, but are hurtful and dangerous eg critical and unkind words. Beware the little things that can destroy our relationships.

  9. October 22nd 2020 by Jim Hetherton

    Thanks Brilliant as ever, oldie but goodie
    For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was lost.
    For want of a rider the battle was lost.
    For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
    And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. Anon

  10. October 22nd 2020 by Daniel Altmire

    The killer is not each cut. Not one of those cuts, by itself, is a fatal occurrence. It is the cumulative effect.
    People, businesses, and yes countries, can die from the effect of the little exception here, the padding of the payroll with people that don’t pull their weight, the laws that are only enforced on the less connected.
    You can heal a couple of cuts, we have all had them.
    We are in a time of great change thrust upon the world. This itself is cutting many, too close to the artery. Our opportunity is to find the straight paths to our new future, rather than reinforce the inconsistency of our past.
    To paraphrase the prophet, Isaiah, “Prepare your way to the future and make the path straight. “

  11. October 22nd 2020 by Annie

    Oh hell. Had a ‘near’ experience with someone’s who’s trying to take over my business. Or so they think, it’s not easy fighting their ego. But their ego is so irrrelevant.

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