Where in your life are you a scared monkey?

It’s storytelling time!

An experiment places 5 smart monkeys in a cage. At the top of the cage is a dangling bunch of bananas.

The monkeys can only reach the bananas by climbing this ladder directly underneath it.

One of the monkeys spots the bananas and starts to quickly climb up the ladder to grab them but before it could reach the top, something triggers the whole cage to be sprayed with cold water.

All of the 5 monkeys sit on the floor — cold, wet, confused. But soon the temptation of the bananas becomes too much and one of them climbs the ladder. Again, it triggers the spray of cold water and they all get drenched again.

At this point, one of the monkeys is removed and replaced with a newbie monkey. The newbie spotting the bananas tries to climb the ladder, all the other monkeys pull the newbie back saying “Dude, that’s not cool, we don’t want to get sprayed with cold water. You fool”.

Newbie monkey says, “Soz, I understand the rules now. Silly me, I’ll just sit here then”.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Another monkey gets removed and replaced with another newbie. Again, the naive newbie begins to climb the ladder and of course, all the other monkeys put a stop to it — including the first newbie monkey who had never been sprayed.

Eventually, all of the original monkeys are removed and the cage is replaced with 5 new monkeys that have never been sprayed with cold water. However, the experiment has now changed and the ladder, when climbed, no longer sets off the cold spray of water. But no one has told the monkeys.

All of the monkeys are too scared now, they’ve been conditioned not to go for the bananas. So they never ever get to eat the delicious bananas.

Wow.

Look I’m not sure if this is a real experiment or not (I’m assuming so, except the talking monkey part I added that in for laughs) but the moral of the story is that an invisible cage of fear had clouded these smart monkeys. The rules of the game had changed but their mindset stayed the same.

So let me ask you, where in your life have you adopted the mindset of a scared monkey?

Sometimes I find myself saying, “Nah, that can’t be done. It didn’t work before”, “there are too many rules or regulations” or “it failed for them…so it couldn’t work for us”.

But little did I realise that the rules of the game have changed, it’s just no one told me about it. And to be honest, it’s going to be rare when someone is going to tell you.

It’s our job as entrepreneurs to continually question everything.

Never take no for an answer.

Find a way.

Be courageous.

Push boundaries.

Do the f*cking hard work no one wants to do.

We have to stop being a scared monkey and reach for the bananas, even if that means there’s a possibility that we get drenched with cold water.

There are many times in my life that I’ve become more courageous in business because of the people I surround myself with. "You are the average of the five you spend the most time with"

Stay Peachy,

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Sheryl Thai, CEO
League of Extraordinary Women