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, Continue reading

Happy thoughts #5 – and a bit more philosophy

“Procrastination is the thief of time.”

For a long time I didn’t understand exactly how putting something off to another day could actually cost me time, but once I understood the meaning I started to look at it more deeply:

  • if I put something off until tomorrow, or next week, or some future date, then I’ve spent time today in thinking about it and making a decision to postpone the action.  In reality this (and the time I’ll spend thinking about the delayed matter) is time which I could have used towards the task (even if I couldn’t have finished it); or
  • if someone else delays dealing with a task from which I require the output then my time is stolen in chasing, remediating, explaining, or even just managing the delay.  (There is the deeper question of managing expectations, but perhaps that is for another day.)

Outside of work this can range from simply tedious to deeply frustrating; overall – work included – time thefts can directly be related to financial costs, and can even affect the bottom line.

Is the message, therefore, not to put off until tomorrow what we can reasonably do today?  I think that’s an entirely reasonable position, and it’s directly related to my happy thought for the week.

My diary got crunched at both ends this week and so yesterday I ended up going for a run at lunchtime (hard intervals) and another in the afternoon (slower and longer, but with a powerful finish).  I had thought about postponing one or the other but I’m glad I didn’t: I felt really good after the second, both mentally and physically. And so my happy thought is all about my running – and the fact that I didn’t succumb to the subtle lure of procrastination.

And the thought to ponder: what will you now do today that you would otherwise have put off?

Happy thoughts #4 (and a bit of philosophy)

Two weeks into the new year and Christmas seems so long ago.  Do we wish our lives away, lurching from weekend to weekend, from one public holiday to the next, and ultimately from vacation to vacation?  Is there merit in saving for a rainy day, or should we live for the moment?  Is it better to regret what we did, or rue the opportunities that we missed?

This moment will only come once, this day will never be repeated, so should we be more concerned with what we can do and achieve today than being the donkey chasing the elusive carrot?  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t lay the foundations for something bigger and better, or strive to complete today’s part of a much bigger task, but is yearning for the next day off enriching our lives?

Rudyard Kipling’s “If” encapsulates this concept in the last few lines (and maybe you’ll be inspired to read the rest of the poem):

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

And it is partly in this context that I like to think of my happy thoughts – what has made this week special, and not simply the filler between Sunday and Saturday?  A couple of good runs – one of five miles over particularly hilly terrain, and another of four where I pushed a friend to do it in a personal best time (of recent years anyway).

Still on the same theme, I’m going to fill the unforgiving minute – and with Amy’s help and encouragement I’m going to register for a 10k.  I might post details when it’s complete,