Monkeys in trees

Monkey in a tree

Spider monkey in a tree

I would hesitate to say that I learn everything from primates, but there are two interesting simian analogies which I use quite frequently. So today I will share what monkeys in trees have taught me.

Monkeys are risk averse

It is said that a monkey clambering through the trees will not let go of one branch until he’s securely holding another.  In the case of environments where a predator may be lurking on the ground below, that’s probably a good philosophy.

But it has also been used to describe situations where someone won’t let go of one thing until they have something else to cling to – be that a security blanket or a relationship.  But we don’t have the same predators – unless the security blanket prevents the monsters under your bed from launching an attack?

Equally, in the corporate environment, sometimes we have to take a leap of faith, launching ourselves from one branch and hoping that the next one will be where we expect it to be.  It’s all a gamble, and it all depends on your risk appetite, but next time you’re faced with a decision think of the monkey in a tree and decide: the close and easy branch, or stretch a little and see what happens.

Monkeys are self-deluding

It is said that tiers of management are like monkeys in a tree: those at the top look down and see lots of smiling faces, whilst those below look up and see … well, you probably get the picture.  And yet there is a self-deluding fallacy in the analogy because each monkey must, at some stage, have been at a lower point and remember the other picture – and presumably thinks that it doesn’t apply in his (or her) case.

What I take from this is that there’s nothing I can do to change irrational, hierarchical perceptions.  But what I can do is be professional in my daily work, talk to everyone equally, and present myself in a way that means they see a trusted colleague.  Like everyone else, I don’t get it right all of the time, but I strive not to be a self-deluding monkey. And, by-and-large, I’m lucky enough to have like-minded colleagues around me.

Monkeys are in our daily life

From monkey business, to sums of money (£500), to monkeying about. W have a rich source of monkey slang and epithets.

For all the humorous monkey imagery, there are some serious behaviours to be observed.  Self-deluding risk avoider, or risk-taking pragmatist? Where do you sit on the monkey scale?