Changing behaviours – release the Rogue Monkey

Categories: Blog

As an NLP trainer and coach I work with people daily on how they can break habits, become better at what they do or understand how they do what they do, when they do it really well.

Even when you may consider that you have a great strategy for success, I always encourage my clients and delegates to try something new. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? You’ll always have that great strategy in your back pocket and you’ll always learn something new. It’s back to the famous quote from Eddison when asked how he felt about failing so many times when he struggled to invent the light bulb. His retort?
“I never failed. I just discovered many ways of how not to do it.”

So, on our Introduction to NLP, I use the story of the Rogue Monkey, not only to share how behaviour, unwanted or not, is formed, but to encourage bucking the behaviour trend.

This is how the story goes……


A group of six monkeys are placed in a cage with a single banana hanging from the top bar. A step ladder leads to the banana. Naturally, a couple of monkeys make their way up the steps to reach for the banana. As they do the entire cage is hosed down with cold water, soaking every monkey inside. Soon the monkeys learn not to step on the ladder.

After one week, one monkey is removed and replaced with a new monkey. Of course the new monkey immediately makes his way for the banana. All of the other monkeys hold him back and stop him reaching his goal. This is repeated daily until all the original monkeys have been replaced. So none of the monkeys have ever been soaked in cold water, yet they still restrain any new monkey who tries to get the banana. They don’t know why, but they have learned their behaviour from their fellow monkeys.

One day a rogue monkey is introduced into the group. He is much bigger and stronger than all of the other monkeys and he manages to reach the banana, and eat it. There is no cold water. The environment has changed since the very first attempt.

Do you ever stop yourself from attempting something new because of a past experience? Fear? Comfort? You’ve heard it’s not possible or seen others fail?

I encourage you to release the Rogue Monkey in you every now and then and challenge your learned behaviours; do something different – after all, it’s just a habit.