Don’t be a Flea

Have you been letting others hold you back?

Have you been trained like a flea?

How often have you wanted to do something, but because you’ve heard “You Can’t” so often that you basically have given up, even though whatever the reason for the “can’t” was never there to begin with or is now gone. 

Fleas can be trained. 

Put in a jar, a group of fleas will jump out. Put a lid on that jar, and the fleas will bang themselves against the top. Eventually, those fleas will learn to not jump so high. 

Remove the lid and guess what? Those fleas will not jump out. They will have “learned” that they can’t, and even though they can, 

The fable of the Monkeys, Bananas, and cold water.

There’s a well-repeated story that’s an exaggeration of an actual experiment. Either way, it underscores the above lesson. 

In this story, five monkeys are placed in an area. In this area there’s a ladder on top of which sits some bananas. Naturally, the monkeys want the food. Once any monkey steps on the ladder to get the food, the monkeys are sprayed with water. 

Eventually the monkeys learn not to get on the ladder or else. So the experimenters remove a monkey and replace it with a new one, who promptly and predictably goes after the bananas. Naturally, fearful of the water, the rest of the tribe does all they can do to prevent the new monkey from touching the ladder. 

They continue to remove and replace the original monkeys until eventually none of the original tribe remain. Even after the old tribe has been removed, the story goes, any new monkey that tries to climb the ladder is removed and punished for attempting to do so. 

The story underscores that this is how we often operate in real life. Social norms and repeated punishments create the impression that something that once caused some form of harm would still cause harm or, just because it’s how it’s always been done, it’s not to ever be tried again. 

Or, we are often told that we can’t do something because someone else tried it and failed. They’re there thinking they’re helping us, saving us from hurt, when they are projecting their failure and failure to learn on you. They’re holding you back from what you deserve. 

So don’t be a flea. Don’t be a monkey. Try to jump out of the bottle you’ve been put in. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot. Fight off the monkeys holding you back from your banana. Go get your bread. Go after your goals, and don’t let anyone hold you back, least of all yourself.