Not My Monkey

wednesdays with wayne May 08, 2019

You may or may not know of my affinity for monkeys, particularly Curious George.  He makes me smile and reminds me to stay curious.  Being in that space of wonder opens up so many possibilities.  

There comes a time that we each have to say, “it’s not my circus and that’s not my monkey.”  People - your coworkers, your family, and even your friends - will take an interest in something and then dump or delegate.  

You get to decide whether what is being given to you is something you wish to take on.  In my breakthrough retreats, I will sometimes engage participants in an exercise of giving each other bags.  “Here’s a gift, would you like it?” And most participants will gladly take things if given to them as a gift.  Changing the context and announcing that the bag is actually a “flaming bag of poo” has some mixed effects. Some participants run.  Some shun the bag, politely declining. What’s surprising is that some, being gracious, will still take it on. I’ll re-announce loudly, “You know that’s a flaming bag of poo!”  And some will politely hold it up, questioning what to do with it now.

When someone brings you their “problems,” it’s nice to be able to help.  It’s… nice. When I worked at AAA, I was an Organization Development specialist.  I helped teams and divisions get better by getting more focused. I’d make recommendations and sometimes they’d be followed, sometimes they wouldn’t.  I had a sign on my desk that, while appearing somewhat mean spirited, was intended to spark conversation: Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

That is, I’m really very happy to help you.  It’s my role and my calling. And if you know the path to take and I point you firmly towards it and you still don’t take it, then when things go badly, it’s not my emergency.  I am still happy to help you and, really, I won’t be the one in crisis mode.

Three paragraphs up, I laid out the key to this week’s Wednesdays With Wayne:  

You decide whether what is being given to you
is something you wish to take on.

You might be IN the circus.  You might have to deal with the three rings happening all at once, and if someone hands you a monkey in the midst of it, it might not be yours to deal with.  

Nope.  It might not be your monkey and really,  it might not be your circus!

You become a more powerful leader when you make the hard decisions and hold your boundaries.  It’s tough stuff because of your compassionate nature. And you can feel for the person and offer additional help without being sucked into crisis mode.

Take that thinking into the rest of this month.


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Enjoy!  Truly!

Keep making your magic!  

I’ll see you here next week!

~ Dr P ~

Global Executive Coach
& High Performance Leadership Advisor


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