“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Based on a recommendation from an old friend, who also happens to be a psychologist and a successful entrepreneur, I read John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward this past week. It was an interesting self-improvement book all the way through, but the one section that really caught my attention was about a social experiment based on research by G.R. Stephenson. Here’s an excerpt:
“Four monkeys were placed in a room that had a tall pole in the center. Suspended from the top of that pole was a bunch of bananas. One of the hungry monkeys started climbing the pole to get something to eat, but just as she reached out to grab a banana, she was sprayed with a torrent of cold water from a hose. Squealing, she scampered back down the pole and abandoned her attempt to feed herself. Each of the other three monkeys made similar attempts and each one was drenched with cold water. After making several attempts, they all finally gave up.
The researchers then removed the water hose and one of the monkeys from the room and replaced her with a new monkey. As the newcomer began to climb the pole, the other three grabbed her and pulled her down to the ground. After trying to climb the pole several times and being dragged down by the others, she finally gave up and never attempted to climb the pole again.
The researchers continued to replace the original monkeys, one by one, and each time a new monkey was brought in the others would drag her down before she could reach the bananas. In a short time, the room was filled with four monkeys who had never received a cold hosing. None of them would climb the pole or allow other monkeys to climb the pole, and not one of them knew why.”
Now, if it were possible to ask those monkeys why they wouldn’t climb the pole, or allow any other monkey to climb the pole, I bet they would say something like, “I don’t know. That’s just how things are done around here.”
Does that sound at all familiar to you? Do you ever catch yourself thinking about the difficult endeavors in life that you’re too scared to try, not because each task is impossible, but because you’ve never mindfully evaluated if there was a smarter way of achieving them? How has social conditioning, old rumored problems, or just your own negative thinking about what is and isn’t possible for you held you back?
No doubt, one of the greatest challenges in life is being your best in a world that’s trying to keep you in line with everyone else. And sometimes it really is our own thoughts that hold us back more than anything.
So with this in mind, it’s time to read or re-read our twenty most popular posts (based on the number of reader views, shares and comments) from this past year. If you give them a chance, each one of these posts has the power to help free your mind and get you back on track to living at your maximum potential.
- 20 Things to Remember When You Think You’re Not Good Enough – Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is simply believing you’re worthy of the trip. Sometimes the pressure coming from peers, family, work, and society in general is enough to make us feel completely broken inside. If we don’t have the “right” job, relationship, lifestyle, and so forth, by a certain age or time-frame, we assume we’re just “not good enough.” But that’s simply not true. Keep reading →