In Qin dynasty China (221-206 BC), every day, workers were told to be on time or else they would be put to death. This was normal, as most punishments were harsh as to dissuade insubordination, so everyone lived with their heads bowed to the Emperor, as was thought proper.
One day after a rough night, a group of workers for a quarry realized that they were going to be several minutes late to work and there was no way to arrive on time. Not seeing them, their foreman marked their names down and smirked, having just penned an order for a new set of workers.
One young worker who was new to the ways of the world then asked his coworkers, "Why is everyone crying? What is the penalty for being late?"
And they responded, wailing, "Death!"
He thought about this and then asked, "Well, what is the penalty for rebellion?"
"Death!" they replied.
They all stopped wailing, for they realized they had nothing to lose.
Within a few years, the Qin had been overthrown.