Why the Cold Water?
By Dan Miller
Here’s a story from Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition) by Michael Michalko. Imagine a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage there is a banana on a string. Before long a monkey walks over and reaches for the banana. As soon as he touches the banana, all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. After a while another monkey makes an attempt to grab the banana – with the same result. All the monkeys are instantly sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to reach for the banana, the other monkeys will try to stop him.
Now forget the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and obviously goes over and starts to grab it. But to his surprise, all of the other monkeys attack him to prevent him from touching the banana.
Next, remove another of the original monkeys and replace it with a new one. Now all of the monkeys currently in the cage stop the new one from getting to the banana. Replace the third, fourth and fifth monkeys with new ones. Each one becomes a willing opponent to allowing anyone to touch that banana.
Now, none of the monkeys in the cage at this point were every sprayed with cold water. But they continue to prevent each other from grabbing that banana – the one food that they should all naturally love. None of these monkeys ever approaches the banana again. They have no idea why it’s off limits – But that’s just the way things have always been done around here.
Sound familiar? If you walked in to your work, church, marriage or neighborhood as an unbiased outsider, what would you question about the “normal” activities there? Are you accepting old traditions that defy the intelligence or spiritual insight you have today? Are you limiting your creative gifts because you tried it once and it didn’t work?
•Do you still kiss your spouse when you arrive home or have you gradually become accustomed to expecting less?
•Are you looking for meager salary guarantees and benefit packages – and depriving yourself of the rich opportunities for free-lance work that draws on your known talents?
•Does your company require you to be at the office each day because you could not do the same work from home, or just because it’s always been done that way?
•Are you trying to get people to buy Edsels just because you’re an Edsel salesman, even though your customers want a Mini Cooper?
•Does your church sit in pews, sing 3 songs and have a 30-minute sermon because that’s the best way to complete God’s work here, or just because that’s become a cultural tradition?
Take the next 7 days to challenge all your daily assumptions. You may be surprised how you can uncover some readily available fresh, tasty bananas right within your reach!
Dan Miller considers himself a “social entrepreneur.” As such he looks for innovative ways to reshape negative systems. Our concept of “work” is a striking example of a negative system. Our culture allows us to view work as a necessary evil or even a curse from God. Clichés like “Thank God it’s Friday” and our eagerness for retirement convey our distaste for our daily work. In his best-selling book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, Dan shows how work can be a meaningful, fulfilling part of an authentic life.
As co-host of 48 Days to the Work You Love online radio show, Dan shares his process for developing a focused, balanced and truly successful life. Dan’s principles have been clarified in his books, 48 Days To The Work You Love, The Rudder of the Day, 48 Days To Creative Income and the upcoming No More Mondays. For free articles: www.48Days.com