Its a fascinating experiment described by business professors Gary Hamel and C.K.Prahalad. In a research project four monkeys were placed in a room that had a tall pole in the centre with a large bunch of bananas at the top.

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As you would expect one of the monkeys spotted the bananas and started to climb the pole to get them. No sooner did he (let’s assume they were all male) start to climb the pole did he find himself soaked by a torrent of cold water. Every time he tried, the experience repeated itself and so after many loud squeals he decided he had to give up as it was useless. The other three monkeys went through the same experience when they tried to do the same thing.

Now this is where it got particularly interesting. One of these four monkeys was replaced by a new monkey who had never gone through the water drenching experience. As the newcomer started to climb the pole, the other three monkeys grabbed him and forcefully pulled him down to the ground. When he tried to persist in climbing the pole. not only did the other monkeys drag him down they also physically attacked the newcomer!

From this point the researchers then replaced the original monkeys one by one. As a new monkey was brought into the room, once again he would try to get to the bananas before being dragged down again by the others. In time there were only monkeys who had never been drenched by the torrent of cold water in the room. However, none of these monkeys dared to climb the pole to get to the tasty looking bananas above them. They instinctively prevented one another from climbing, but none of them had the faintest idea why.

Now the question. I don’t think any of us are monkeys (!) but could it be possible that in your life and my life there are well meaning people who have been hurt by bad experiences in their own lives? Is it the pain of those experiences that lead them to pull you down with their criticism and critique? Are some of those negative voices inside your own head?…….

There is great power in asking such questions. The reason is they can provide the glint of a different possibility. They can facilitate the impetus to make changes or bring results that may originally have seemed unreachable or even impossible. As we have said in a previous post between stimulus and response for humans there is the power to choose. We can call upon our self-awareness, imagination, conscience and independent will to think different thoughts and do actions that can lead to different results.

Applying a different analogy, I am told if you collect crabs you do not need to put a lid on the container.  The reason is that the crabs will pull back and prevent any other crabs from trying to get out! Some people and our own fearful limitations can have a similar effect.

Now while these examples are by no means comprehensive and universal they do illustrate a principle that we have to question the apparent limitations to excel and succeed that are around us. Those limitations can come from people we look up to or identify with. There are often unspoken and unquestioned assumptions and prejudices we may not even be aware of. That is why it is vital we think carefully about who we allow into our inner circle, where we seek counsel and advice.

Also see Why Do I Need To Cultivate A Network Of Healthy Relationships Around Me?

How do you distinguish between deciding on when you need to respect your natural pre-ordained limitations and where you need to extend yourself past your comfort zone?