There’s a story about monkeys in the jungle who were captured by the natives by filling big heavy jars with berries. When the monkeys reached in to grab the berries they’d get stuck because their clenched fist (full of berries) would not come out of the mouth of the jar.
Those monkeys who were unwilling to let go of the berries would be captured because they could not carry the jars. They were trapped by their combination of greed and stubbornness. They were unable to see the consequences of their actions and, therefore, unable to change their behavior in order to avoid disaster.
Whether or not the story is factual, it illustrates some important points. We hang onto things (e.g., people, ideas, and beliefs) that hold us hostage. We cannot escape our current situation and move into a better future unless we are willing to let go of those “berries.” We humans have an advantage…we can evaluate the consequences and have the opportunity to make a choice.
In your defense, when you first grabbed the berries (e.g., your job, spouse, boat, house), they looked delicious and you really wanted them. You were hungry and the berries were right there. Have you ever said to yourself “it seemed like a good idea at the time”?
Chances are it was a good choice at the time and made perfect sense. Then things changed. Maybe you gained new information, learned new skills, or adopted a new vision or mission for your life or your business. Suddenly, those berries were no longer attractive or appealing. They didn’t align with your new goals. They were now creating frustration and actually putting you or your objective in danger.
And still, you held on to those berries…which at this point started to look, feel, and smell pretty bad. Yet you stubbornly hung on, out of habit, out of misplaced loyalty, or out of fear. Part of you knew it was time to let go…but the uncertainty was too high. The fear of the unknown was scarier than the disgust you felt about those soggy, moldy, slimy berries.
It’s time to take your hands out of the jar, wash them off and start fresh. What are the berries in your life that are keeping you trapped and unwilling to move forward? What’s holding you back from:
- speaking up for yourself
- leaving your job or a toxic relationship
- going after a promotion or asking for a raise
- going back to school
- living the life you want
Action Challenge: List three things that you can do within the next 24 hours to escape from your past experiences and current beliefs that are getting in the way of your success. What can you stop doing? What can you start doing? The smallest of steps still count. Be aware, make a plan, take one step to get yourself headed in the right direction.