Now, I don’t know about you, but what’s true for me is when I was younger, when I was a young business owner, I took a lot of pride in being able to solve my employees and staff’s problems. Now, whatever problems they had, I took a lot of pride in being able to actually take those problems, work with them, or just take them on as my own and then get them done. Right?
These could be problems in finance, problems with customer service, with sales, even web programming, and analytics. Right? I taught myself how to do it and I took so much pride in being able to do the work. I could grind out it. Nobody could beat me. I took a lot of pride in it, but I also burnt myself out. What I found myself doing is being the person that people came to in their personal problems as well, in their relationships, whether they’d be employees or friends. Now, I naturally gravitate towards teaching. I just love teaching and helping people. What happened to me and what was true for me is I got burned out because every time somebody came into my office, they would either give me a suggestion about a change in the business. They would give me a problem that was going on in the business or something in their personal life, and then they would want me to solve it. Right? They want me to do it. They’d want me to take care of the issue, and I would, but I was overwhelmed.
I was so busy taking care of their problems, that I wasn’t taking care of myself. Now, fast-forward another gosh 15-plus years to today. Just the other day I was talking to one of my coaching clients who owns a business, and he was having a similar problem. He was saying, “Look, Doug, these people that come in, they have ideas, and they aren’t doing anything. They just walk in.” I said, “You know what? Look at this.” We’ll call him Rob. That’s not his name, but I said, “Look Rob, does it happen like this? Because this is the way it used to occur for me. They walk into your office, they present these problems or these situations they need help with. These situations that need to be taken care of, and they walk out. You’re thinking, I’m so overwhelmed already all the things I have to do with business that now I go to do this too.”
He said, “Yeah, Doug. That’s exactly what it feels like.” I said, “That’s because you’re a monkey handler.” He looked as shocked you could probably imagine. What are you talking about, a monkey handler? I said, “You know what? Somebody walks into your office, and I used to do this. Somebody walks into your office with a problem, with a monkey on their back so to speak, and then what you do is is you say, ‘Hey, come here. Put the monkey on my back. I’m a trained monkey handler.'”
The monkey leaps off their back, the problem, and leaps onto yours, and they walk out of the office feeling better because they’re able to vent. They’re able to communicate their problem and they knew that you would take care of it. Right? Then, the next person walks in with two monkeys on their back, and they’re feeling weighed down because these monkeys are big. You say, “Hey, look, I’m strong. I’m courageous. I can handle this.” Those two monkeys jump off their back and jump onto yours because you’re the monkey handler. Over time, now you have six, seven, maybe 70 monkeys on your back weighing you down. You’re not able to actually do the work that you love, the real work in your business, the work that you’re called to do in life.
He said, “Wow, that’s exactly it feels like.” I said, “Okay, here’s your tip. You no longer take care of monkeys.” Simple as that. Somebody walks in your office, or they come to you if you’re not a business owner and you’re listening to these daily growth hacks. They come to you and they say, “Hey, Doug, I have this problem with my wife, my kids,” whatever it may be. If they want that monkey to jump off, as soon as that monkey gets ready to leap, you just stop them and say, “I’m a monkey training, not a monkey handler.” What I’m going to do is, what’s the solution? Right? What’s the solution or a possible outcome to that problem? Let that person come up with the answer, and then give them steps to move forward.
In the area of business, I’ll use an example. Right? If I have a staff member come to me from one of my companies, let’s say it’s the coaching business. They come to me and say, “Doug, there’s a problem with the website, with our private community for our lead clients. Someone’s having a problem logging in.” I used to take that problem and say, “Okay, I’ll take care of it right away.” Now, what I say is, “Well, what’s the next step to make that a solution?” They said, “Well, we probably should just reset their password and send it to them.” Great, make sure that happens, and next time just automatically do that. You have the power to do that. Now, they leave not only with the monkey, but the monkey’s gone. Right? They leave with a solution and the ability to solve this problem again and again.
I’ll use another scenario. Oftentimes, my friends will reach out to me with problems in their business but also problems in their relationship. They’ll talk to me about their spouse, and oftentimes I just listen. When they ask for my feedback and my opinion, instead of trying to solve the problem for them, I ask them questions. “What do you think is the best thing to do in time?” Often they answer, they coach themselves. They answer the question because they know what should be done. They truly know. This takes the burden off of me, but also helps them. What I’m going to ask you to do today is grab your journal, grab your five to and see where you’re doing this. Right? Are you solving problems? Are you allowing other people’s monkeys to come on in the areas of your mind, your body. Right? Are you actually taking diets and exercise routines and saying, “I’ll write the program for you. I’ll help you with your diet. I’ll do it for you.”
What about relationships? That where I see it the most. What about business? Business also happens quite a bit. Where are you becoming the monkey handler versus the monkey trainer? Then, what I want you to do is write that down. Now, once you’ve identified an area if there’s an area that exists for your and if you’re human, there are lots of areas. Then again, let me stop this. You could be the person passing off the monkey, and you could recognize this. If that’s you, stop right away, because what you’re doing is creating more problems for yourself as well. Right? If you walk into your boss’ office or you go to a friend and you present problems, you’re just a complainer. That makes you a victim. When you have a problem and not a solution to the problem, you’re just entering victimhood. Stop that right away. Problem, solution each and every time.
Look at your five to thrive again, write it out, and if you’re the person that solves problems, look at those areas that you’re stepping into, because really what you’re doing is stealing the power from the other person. Now, yeah, you’re solving problems for people, but you’re stealing their opportunity to grow, their opportunity to learn. Right? You’re stealing their opportunity. Now, if you’re the person that always comes with problems, you’re the victim. Right? What you’re doing is putting more problems on somebody else’s plate, and nobody wants that either. Identify where you’re doing this in your five to thrive. When I started looking at this many years ago, I noticed I was doing this in many areas in different ways. Some places, I was being the victims. Right? I was complaining. “I’m not sleeping. I’m working too much. Therefore, my fitness goals aren’t hitting. Therefore, my relationships. I got to work more. It’s because of this.” No solution.
That’s when I started coming up with different sleep regimes that worked for me. Right? I have a problem, I’m not sleeping. Now, I know what I need to do, solution. Right? In most areas, in business, I was really the monkey handler. Anybody would come to me, I would solve their problem. I took a lot of pride in it as I mentioned before. Now, I always ask them for the solution, empower them to learn. If I can teach them, I will, but then I empower them to move forward every other time without having to question me, or have to come to me for a solution. This is how I’ve been able to successfully scale and run multiple companies. Right? I become a monkey trainer rather than a monkey handler. I train that monkey, that problem to solve itself. Then, once it’s solved itself, I train it to learn from that experience.
I encourage you to be your own coach. Write this down in your journal and also if you’re a business owner, work with your staff or your employees on these models. That’s it for me to today. As always, go over to authorofyourownstory.com where you can get more tips, tricks, and techniques delivered right to your email inbox if you sign up for the newsletter. Then, make sure you’re going to the Author of Your Own Story community on Facebook where we do Facebook lives as well as deep dives into conversations like this, but you’re also able to expand your network and meet other cool people just like yourself. Have an amazing day. I’ll see you tomorrow. Remember, be the author of your own story.
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