Monkeys & Bananas

Do anything the same way twice, and the brain wires it as a habit. Our work patterns and relationships are filled with thousands, even millions of habits and patterns. Habits have a habit of living beyond their usefulness.

Researches hang a bunch of bananas in the middle of a room over a ladder. Then they put a group of monkeys in the room. Every time one of the monkeys starts up the ladder to get the bananas, the researches spray the others with cold water. Brrrr! Before long, anytime one of the monkey starts up the ladder, the others stop him. And the bananas just hang there.

They rotate in a new monkey. He looks around, sees the bananas, and starts up the ladder. Wham – the others jump him. He doesn’t understand, tries again, gets stopped again.

He waits until he thinks no one’s looking, and tries to sneak up the ladder (those bananas look good!) and they jump him again.

He learns to leave the fruit alone. Researchers rotate in another monkey, the same thing; he goes for bananas, they stop him. After a few tries, he gives up.

They keep rotating in new monkeys (they have turnover too) and before long, none of the original monkeys are there.

None of the monkeys go for the bananas, they ignore them. And if a monkey did go for them, (which any monkey in his right mind would do), the others stop him.

Guess what? The researchers have stopped spraying water a long time ago. No one would get sprayed if they climbed up the ladder.

The monkeys don’t even know why they don’t go up the ladder. They just maintain the habits they learned from those who came before them.

You have, right now, limiting patterns and beliefs in your organization and in your life that you cannot see. And they will hold you back until you become conscious of them.

Bananas, anyone?