Have you Heard the One about the Scientist, the Monkeys, and the Banana? 9


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A scientist conducted an experiment. 5 monkeys were locked in a cage. Hanging inside the cage was a banana and a ladder placed underneath the banana.

Day 1 of the Experiment.

Monkeys being monkeys, one of them raced to the ladder and started to climb for the banana. Midway through his climb, the scientist sprayed the monkey with ice-cold water. At the same time, he sprayed the other 4 monkeys who didn’t climb.

Monkeys being monkeys, another monkey tried to climb the ladder.

Again, the scientist sprayed him with ice-cold water until he stopped climbing. Again, the scientist sprayed the other 4 monkeys even though they didn’t climb.

Monkeys being monkeys, they kept trying to climb to get the banana. Each time, they were all sprayed with ice cold water until they learned their lesson: do not climb the ladder.

Day 2 of the Experiment.

Once all the monkeys had learned not to climb the ladder, the scientist took one of the original 5 monkeys out of the cage, and added a new monkey in his place.

The newcomer, being a monkey, immediately tried to climb the ladder to get the banana. The other 4 monkeys, painfully familiar with the ice-water punishment, dragged the new monkey down the ladder and beat him up.

The new monkey, despite never knowing about the ice-water punishment, quickly learned that climbing the ladder led to a beating from his peers.

Days 3 – 6 of the Experiment.

Each day, the scientist replaced one of the original monkeys with a new monkey.

Each day, the new monkey would try to climb the ladder to get the banana, and the other monkeys would drag him down and beat him up.

The scientist noted, in his journal, how even the monkeys that had never been punished with the ice-water spray (and hence knew nothing about it) would join the beating of the new monkey with as much passion and vigor as the monkeys that had been punished with the ice-water spray.

Day 7 of the Experiment.

By Day 7 of the experiment, all of the original monkeys had been removed, and 5 new monkeys were in the cage. None of these 5 monkeys had ever been punished with the ice-water spray for climbing the ladder.

The scientist put a 6th Monkey – the New Monkey – into the cage. He ran toward the ladder to try for the banana, only to get beaten up by the others.

The New Monkey, gifted with a more inquisitive mind (and a burning desire to “Poke the Bear”), turned to the others and asked: “Why do you beat me up when I climb the ladder to get the banana?”

The other monkeys stopped for a second, looked at each other with slightly puzzled looks. The leader shrugged his shoulders and said: “Don’t know. That’s just the way we do things around here”.

Food for Thought:

At your jobs, with your families, and in your social circles (both in real life and online), which of the above characters best describes you?

What if we each found a way, today, to lift someone up the ladder toward their goal, instead of tearing them down because they break the “rules” of the group?

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