Birds and Monkeys

I want you to imagine for a moment a monkey swinging from limb to limb darting through a forest. It's movements are smooth and fluid as it swings from one branch to another, propelling itself through the wilderness to it's final destination.

Up above is a bird that's soaring effortlessly, gliding with the wind in a near straight line. It too is navigating her way towards a final destination.

Now imagine the bird trying to tell the Monkey that it shouldn't be swinging back and forth, moving left and right, and wasting all that energy. Clearly it should be moving in a perfectly straight line! In fact, it should learn to fly! After all, from the bird's perspective, that is obviously the best way to get around.

In the world of business, people are always asking monkeys to act like birds and asking birds to act like monkeys. It's extremely important to understand that what works well for someone else may work terribly for you.

Maybe you have a different style. Maybe your personality allows you to be more abrasive than others. Maybe your personality requires you to be less abrasive. Maybe you're more soft-spoken, or an introvert, or a raging extrovert, or whatever.

In order to know what will work for you, you need to know yourself. Take advice from people, learn from them, understand the larger narrative and put that advice to good work.

But when people start offering you advice on specific tactics - on how best to do the specific tasks of your job - be conscientious as to whether it will work for you. If it will, then that's awesome.

First though, make sure it isn't a bird trying to teach a monkey to fly.