When i heard of this idiom, i never actually appreciated what it implied. Actually it holds much water for us who are still growing and finding our footing in life.
So the story goes that a group of pupils organised for a trip to a zoo and on the way, they each bought hats. When they arrived at the zoo, they were amazed at the different animals on display. One stand fascinated them – monkeys upon a tree. And they were so engrossed at enjoying their presence with them that a slight wind came and blew away their hats which the monkeys grabbed. They wore them on their heads just as they saw the kids do!
The kids got mad. They beckoned to the monkeys to go to where they were and the monkeys did exactly that. Whenever they did anything in an attempt to get their hats, the monkeys did the same. They realized there was a way to trick the monkeys, by making them ape them: they took their scarfs and tied them on their heads to look like hats. The monkeys did not copy that since the way they looked was alike to them – as if they wore hats. Then in tandem, they removed the scarfs from their heads and threw them into the air. The foolish monkeys, as was their character, did the same and pulled the hats from their heads and threw them into the air. The hats flew down to the ground and the kids took them back and ran away, laughing in joy.
Funny as the story is, it holds great lessons for us and is a clear mirage of how most of us live. How many of us have a clear vision of what we want in life? It is said almost 92% of people in the world today die before realizing their potential in life. It is therefore not a surprise that the richest place in the world is the graveyard as in it lies ideas that were never fulfilled.
I know of friends who purpose to do stuff but along the way, out of external pressure, they bulge and start aping their fellow men’s ideas. Of particular instance is a pal whose passion was doing marketing. When a fellow came into town and he held an event, he chose to shift to doing events management. Well, he organised his and it never went down well. He lost a lot of cash and when i met him, he chose to go into environmental consultancy, saying that that was his forte. Well, i just sat back and analysed his adventure at self discovery and i pitied him. I have never heard of him since.
Like the monkeys in our analogy above, many of us never have confidence in what we put our minds to do, and get derailed when challenges come in. We are uniquely created with individual and specific strengths that make us to be who we are. No two people can therefore do the same thing likewise. If i was to write down my speech, and gave it to you to go present at a conference, trust me you would not deliver it as perfectly as i would even without the write up. Because we are totally different. That is the reason why anyone who apes fails in execution.
I always admire Thomas Edison, the great American inventor. He tried 999 times to invent the light bulb. And every time he failed, he said he learnt one way not to do it. Were he to start letting his eyes wander off his purpose, someone else would have come along and did exactly that and take all the glory, plus the rewards!
They say the grass is always greener across the fence. But then, if you water yours, it would also be green. It is just a matter of effort and skill. Or better still, be greener and more attractive than the one across the fence. So, why cross the fence? Tend to yours!
It is time we stopped seeing what people do and ape and start living our lives as we were created to, in business and in the workplace. You can only be the best version of yourself and not the other person! If you want to have a fulfilling business or work quality, just choose to be the best you can be of yourself. Because it is your passion that would power your life dream!
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:
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