We see things as we are, not as they are

Even though we see the same data, person or situation as the next person, how we interpret it is based on our own filters.

We are wired to see things a certain way.

Let’s look at the story of the five monkeys, a bunch of bananas and a water spray to help us understand what this really means.**

There were five monkeys placed in a cage.  In the middle of the cage there was a ladder with a bunch of bananas at the top.  It didn’t take long for the first monkey to climb the stairs.  The first monkey was sprayed with ice cold water, along with the other four monkeys.  After a while, another monkey made an attempt to climb the ladder to get the bananas.  He too was sprayed with the cold water as well as the other monkeys.

Then one monkey was removed and replaced with a new one.  The new monkey saw the bananas and began to climb.  To his surprise, the other monkeys attacked him and pulled him from the ladder.  He tried again, with the same assault occurring.  Again, a new monkey  replaced an old one.  The newcomer went to the stairs and was attacked.  The previous newcomer took part in the attack.

Again the third, forth and fifth monkeys were replaced.  Every time the new monkey attempted to climb the ladder they were attacked by the others including the newest replacement.  The monkeys had no idea why they were not allowed to climb the ladder or why they were being beaten for it.  However, no monkey ever approached the ladder again.  Why not?

If we asked them maybe they would have told us that ‘that’s just the ways things are around here’.

We have to be really careful we are not becoming a monkey in how we see things and therefore make decisions.

Have you made a decision about someone in the office based on what others say?

Have you decided not to try a new project because someone told you ‘it’s too hard’?

Have you walked into a conversation with a preconceived idea of how things should be?

Don’t be a monkey and let the ‘Board of Directors’ make decisions for you that might be incorrect and have serious consequences.  Ones that affect decisions you make and the relationships you have.

Talk to Georgia Murch if you want to overcome them and learn to lead remarkably.

**The story reflects a combination of Kohler’s work with chimps, Jacob and Cambell’s (1961) work with humans, and Curio and Mineka’s work with respectively European blackbirds and monkeys.