I remember seeing a show on TV once about how people caught monkeys somewhere clear on the other side of the globe from where I live.
The host of the show detailed how the trappers would find trees that had fallen on the ground, hollow out the middle portion of the tree, and put a little piece of food inside the log. Then, on the top part of the trunk on the outside of the log, they would drill a small hole right above where the food was. That was it.
As monkeys swung around the jungle, they would catch a whiff of the food and come exploring. Their noses would lead them directly to the hole on the top side of the fallen tree, and I imagine their eyes expanded at the sight of the beautiful treat down inside the hole. A monkey would wiggle its hand down through the narrow hole until it could gasp the food. But as it clinched its fist around the food, its hand was now too big to pull back through the hole.
Persistent and determined to capture the prize, it would fight and struggle to get the treat out of the log without letting the food out of its clasp. The trappers would then come along and put the monkey into a net or cage and off they would go. Easy as that.
The monkey wasn’t willing or never realized that ALL IT HAD TO DO WAS LET GO OF THE FOOD, unclench its fist, and then slide its hand back out of the hole.
All it had to do was let go in order to be free.
I watch us all build walls of stability around ourselves that sometimes trap us right where we are. We hold onto something so tightly that it keeps us from moving anywhere. We can become so paralyzed by our fears or doubts about the future that they trap us right where we are.
Like the monkey with its hand stuck in the hole, we need to learn that letting go sets us free. We can’t find something new until we’re ready to release what’s holding us back.
Author Neale Donald Walsh once said, “You cannot let go of anything if you cannot notice that you are holding it.”
Recognizing what we’re holding onto, what is weighing us down, our doubts, our fears, and then letting go, is unbelievably liberating. What are you holding onto too tightly in your life and work?
Don’t make like a monkey. Unclench your fist, and be free.
Jason Barger is the globally celebrated author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim, ReMember, and the newly released book Thermostat Cultures, as well as a coveted keynote speaker and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.
PS. If you liked this blog post, you may also like these!: