Thinking Differently

Here’s an excerpt from a book I was recently reading.

“Imagine a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb toward the banana. As soon as he touches the stair, spray all the monkeys with ice-cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result — all the monkeys are sprayed with ice-cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. 
Now, turn off the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and will want to climb the stairs. To his surprise, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with Enthusiasm.
Again, replace a third monkey with a new one. The new one goes to the stairs and is attacked. Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing the fourth and fifth monkeys with new ones, all the monkeys that have been sprayed with ice-cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs. Why not? Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been around here.
Don’t be a monkey. Challenge all assumptions. “ — Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko (great book by the way)

It’s too often that we as a species do things because that’s how it’s always been. It’s the way we were taught, the way we’ve always been told to live. Unfortunately, a lot of those people who actually try to do things differently often get punished for doing so. This creates a very squared environment in which being different is morally wrong. These environments tend to leave no room for creativity and no room for thinking outside the box.

Before getting past this mental wall, we must first accept and learn that if it wasn’t for these “different” people, these “different” ideas (many of which can sound outright insane to a lot of people; these are usually the best, most successful ideas surprisingly), there would be no innovation, there would be no advancement, no moving forward. How boring would life be if we didn’t have the option to question things and the way things currently are? Just because someone tells you something (even a higher-up/a professor/ a mentor etc.), doesn’t mean you should always believe it. How do you know for a fact, 100%, that they’re correct? What if your professor is basing his lecture off an article he studied 30 years ago, which has been proven false in recent years? And what if those new discoveries which proved your professor wrong, are proven false as well, 20 years from now? Everything can be questioned, always. Things can be made better, always. How many things in this world are really, 100% absolute? The good thing is that we seem to be able to take things a step further (education/knowledge wise) every day. Thanks to new technology, we’ve been able to discover things we never thought were possible.

The world is moving and it’s moving fast. It’s up to us to catch up or to be left behind. Computers are taking over entire careers. Certain people have studied for years and years, only to be doing less and less every year because a computer can now do their job entirely for them. Technology is growing, becoming better, more accurate at an incredibly fast rate and it’s only going to be getting smarter and more efficient. How does this affect us? Humans have more flaws in a work environment than a computer does. A computer does what it’s commanded to do and doesn’t stop, whereas a human has emotions, frecuently makes bad decisions, and can definitely not work as hard and as consistently as a computer can. It’s hard to accept, but every year that passes, more and more jobs will be entirely removed due to new technology (this can potentially open more jobs in the tech industry though).

Keeping an open mind and knowing what’s going on around the world, in different places, in different work fields, is important because it may all indirectly, or even directly, affect us in one way or another. It’s better to be aware about certain things beforehand, than before it’s late (unless you enjoy surprises).

It’s important to be that monkey who wakes up, takes a step back and observes what’s really going on around them. Don’t fall in the trap of squared routine, accepting things as they are and as they always have been. Don’t be ashamed of seeking that different route, trying to be different, and doing what makes you happy. You’re on this world to please yourself, not others. Never forget that.