Monkey Business

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I love this picture of my client holding up one of her learning cues:

“Throw the monkey back”

What does “throwing the monkey back” mean?

A monkey is representative of issues and challenges that others try (often unintentionally) to leave at your door; effectively triggering your monkey mind into action, when no action is needed.

My client is a HUGE people pleaser – it’s what makes her a compassionate, caring and empathetic end of life cancer specialist. However in overdrive, her helpful mode means she has a tendency to want to fix everything and everyone.

Before she learned the art of monkey throwing, she was answering everyone’s queries and questions, picking up work which wasn’t hers, responding to other people’s “stuff” in the moment rather than allowing colleagues the time and space to do their own thinking. Questions, emails and meetings with colleagues became triggers for her to do something and take action – despite these situations not needing anything from her. They were their challenges – not hers.

The result was she was constantly second guessing her colleagues, taking on way too much work, and felt overwhelmed. Unfortunately, relationships with colleagues weren’t great either.

When we own other people’s monkeys we’re subconsciously saying:

You can’t think for yourself

Your answer/idea won’t be as good as mine

You’re not strong enough to handle that

You can’t do it

You need me to to do it for you

I’m better than you

I need to fix you

My client thought she was being helpful and supportive, but the opposite is true. When you take someone’s monkey off them it disempowers them, undermines confidence and stifles learning.  It also means you’re likely to have too much on your plate and your workload increases beyond the original day’s plan.

Clients that have mastered monkey throwing find they can delegate more effectively, have more time for the valuable and important work, and get more done.  They also feel less stressed and relaxed about situations with others. 

If you want to master the art of monkey throwing, then give me a call.