Following up my first post in 2011, in which I declared that all I want in 2011 is to tame twelve monkeys, a lot of friends or blog readers seemed to really pick up this notion. I received a lot of wishes in the form of “good luck with your monkeys” or something along those lines. People seemed to be nicely impressed with this approach.
But reading between the lines I realized that there might be a little bit of confusion surrounding this. As a matter of fact, I think there is a lot of confusion. People seem to think this is something rather funny. Well, it’s not something funny. It’s not like going to zoo on a Sunday afternoon. It’s a twelve months long challenge! Maybe using the word “monkey” made everybody think I’m just fooling around.
Well, I’m not. So I decided to write a separate blog post on this topic.
What Is A “Monkey”
An inner “monkey” is a drastically undeveloped part of yourself. You may think at it like a long term goal which was never attained. Or like a deeply buried dream you never dared to dream until the end. Or something you declared to yourself you’re going to follow up through, but never did.
A “monkey” is a goal frozen in its evolution. Like a genome which was never able to reach the human form. It was only strong enough to mimic its human shape but at the core level it’s just an unfinished project.
That’s the first part of a “monkey”. It’s about its lack of completion and unfinished nature. But there is more about it.
There is also this part which is wild and playful. Whenever you start dreaming at something you’re in a playful state. You don’t have constraints or deadlines. You’re just projecting a desired reality. You’re playing. Like a monkey jumping from one tree to another.
This wild nature of a monkey is something precious. In the first stages of any dream we have we’re enthusiastic and playful. Just like a monkey jumping around. That part is somehow lost until we eventually finish the project. Somewhere along the way we forget how to dream. We loose our initial enthusiasm. We may reach the human stage, but our inner “child” is dead.
Why Taming A “Monkey”
And here’s where my approach is different. I don’t want goals. Those goals will kill the initial playful phase. Will take away the enthusiasm. I don’t want to transform that monkey into a human being. All I want is to tame it. To make that monkey obey my wishes and commands. But at the same time to keep its playful nature and to fool around with it, if this is what I want. It’s like having a pet. A monkey pet.
Goals are ok. Reaching goals is a very fulfilling thing to do. I myself wrote dozens of posts on goal reaching. But taming monkeys is something completely different. It’s an attempt to complete and refine that underdeveloped part of yourself, but at the same time to keep its wild, playful and enthusiastic nature.
How To Identify A “Monkey”
Theory is nice, but let’s get practical. How to identify a monkey? Well, this is what I use. It’s just a list of 5 simple questions.
1. Is It Something That Is Dragging Around For A Long Time?
For instance, you cannot say you’re having a “monkey” if you just started a new, exciting project. That’s not a monkey because it’s too “young”. A monkey should have a long evolution within yourself.
2. Is It Something Inspiring?
It cannot be close to your real nature if it’s not inspiring you. Take the time to think at it for a while. If it’s a very precious dream you had, something that is making you smile when you think at it, then you’re on.
3. Is It Something That You’re Afraid To Take Action On?
Sometimes, those unfinished parts of ourselves seem to be suspended in a realm of non activity. It’s like you’re afraid to take action on it because it will break the pleasure of just dreaming about it. Well, if that’s the case, you got yourself a monkey.
4. Is It Something Personal?
It’s gotta be personal. It’s gotta be something that is somehow inside of you. Originated within your deepest, most personal layer. If it’s just a task you’re avoiding to do at your job, well, that’s not a monkey. It’s plain ol’ procrastination.
5. Is It Something That You’ll Still Enjoy Having After You’ll “Finish” It?
Remember that you’re going to manage that monkey. If it’s just something you want “now” and forget about it, well, this is not a “monkey”. It’s just a desire. But if you know you’ll enjoy having and playing with that thing, well, you got yourself a monkey.
How To Tame A Monkey
This paragraph is a work in progress. I don’t know now how to tame a monkey (yet) because I just started. All I know is that this month’s “monkey” is an app I wanted to publish on the AppStore for a long time.
I think there are at least 6 months since I decided I will publish it, but didn’t write a single line of code. So yes, question #1, “is it dragging for a long time”, the answer is “yes”. Also, it’s something that is very inspiring for me. It’s an app that will allow people to connect to each other in a completely new way (that was question #2).
For some reason, I was always afraid to take action on it. Because, at the technical level, there were some black spots on my knowledge map. And I was afraid to explore those spots. Question #3, of course.
As for questions #4 and #5, you can bet it’s a personal thing and it’s also something that I will have to manage for at least one year, if not more. So, my monkey was completely identified.
Back to the taming. I’m working on it and the monkey is starting to respond to some commands. But we’re far from having a complete response. I will update my status in a few days.
Also, the good thing is that I have a wonderful time doing it. This is a very playful monkey. 😉