off the monkey”

Not literally!

It’s a saying/metaphor. Read on, and all should become clear…

A Pastor once shared the following story with me. It goes something like this,

There once was a man who owned a monkey. He really loved this monkey. One day, that monkey became ill, and the solution was his tail had to be cut off. But because the man loved the monkey so much, and didn’t want to hurt it, he thought it would be too much of a shock to just cut off his tail all at once.

So he decided to just cut off a bit. He waited a while, and then did the same again. He did it a third time. At which point the monkey said, “will you please just cut it off!

The owner was shocked, and started explaining why he’d just been cutting a bit at a time. To which the monkey replied, “but don’t you understand, every time you cut me it hurts!

Approaching Difficult Decisions

Some of us approach difficult decisions in this way. Be they family, personal, work etc. Particularly when it comes to ending something.

Maybe it’s because change is difficult. Maybe it’s because we’ve become so results oriented, that to end or cut off a thing before achieving the goal, is regarded as failure.

Maybe it’s because we’ve invested so much into the thing in question, sacrificed so much, that we desperately need it to count for something. We keep hoping it will turn around. As it can’t have all been for nothing.

Whatever the reason, continuously delaying making a final decision can be detrimental to ones well-being. As came up in the story, every time a piece of the monkey’s tail was cut, it hurt.

The pain was not lessened by it being a small cut, or having a period of time elapse between cuts. It hurt each time, and worse, it was a repeated occurrence.

Hence the saying,

cut the tail off the monkey.*

Harming Your Future

I think it’s also possible that this delay can harm or hinder future hopes, plans and dreams. Why?

Imagine you’re in a work situation which you know needs to change. The longer you remain in it, the more likely it is that you will be become demotivated, deskilled, disengaged. Potentially even begin to doubt your ability to do anything else. Devaluing the contribution you have made, and can make elsewhere; as the shortcomings in your current position are internalised as all your own.

Note the word ‘all’. As I’m in no way suggesting that there won’t be instances for which we must take responsibility. As we will have times when we have given less than our best, made mistakes etc., and impacted outcomes and situations negatively.

We Already Know the Answer

In general, when it comes to significant decisions, we often already know-or have a very good idea of- what needs to be done/what we want to do. We are just reluctant, for reasons already touched on and also fear, to do it.

There is a concept that suggests that when faced with 2 choices, a coin toss is a simple way to decide.

Note, the concept is not suggesting that you let the coin toss decide your fate. Rather, that it provokes a moment of clarity or motivation to commit to a choice. The choice you truly wanted.

So what might you need to cut the tail off? And will you do it?

*N.B: according to the ‘cut the tail’ story, the clear solution was the tail had to be cut. So not advocating ending things at the first sign of struggle.

**Optional extras:

Why you sometimes have to quit to win

Freakenomics podcast: The Upside of Quitting

*Disclaimer: Inclusion of the optional extras, doesn’t mean I subscribe to all that is said or suggested. Rather that there are elements that may be worthy of consideration or resonate.

P.s: this is another from my posts I intend to write list.