3.10.2011

Behind the Scenes: The Hundredth Monkey Effect



When my husband and I were first dating, he related the story of the hundredth monkey to me. I was both fascinated and tickled by the idea so I filed it away in my mental data bank for future pondering. Years passed and I forgot about the phenomenon of the hundredth monkey until something popped up on my radar last month. This experience got me thinking about the hundredth monkey theory and how it could relate to Hint Jewelry's business.

The story of the hundredth monkey effect was originally published in the book Rhythms of Vision: The Changing Pattern of Beliefs by Lawrence Blair in 1975. Later Lyall Watson related the same story in his book Lifetide in 1979 and was further popularized by Ken Keyes, Jr. with his book The Hundredth Monkey.

Each of these men relate the story of scientists in Japan who were studying macaque monkeys on the island Koshima during the 1950s. Researchers noticed that a small group of monkeys developed a method for washing their sandy sweet potatoes in the water to make them more edible. This habit spread among the younger monkeys and eventually to their parents. Later when x number of monkeys had begun washing their sweet potatoes (they chose the 100th monkey as an example of a critical number) this behavior jumped to other islands and unrelated monkeys began washing their sweet potatoes too.

The spread of an idea or behavior is fascinating to me. Of course there are many skeptics who have disproved the hundredth monkey theory, but whether it's true or not is not really the point. For instance, suppose you have a cause that is important to you, and you bring it up in conversations with your friends, families, and new acquaintances, isn't it more fun to think that you are building that network of 100 monkeys rather then worrying if the theory works or not. The joy is the act of weaving together a group of like-minded people that want to foster the same beliefs.

Just allowing yourself to suspend all reason and suppose this theory is true, then you might begin to wonder what your critical number for spreading your concept might be. One hundred? Five hundred? Twenty-five thousand? Ten million? Whatever number you believe to be the critical turning point, can be utilized as a motivational tool that carries you forward. Making a commitment to reach one hundred people can move you from point A to point B.

If you're in business, you may believe that you are trying to reach a critical number of sales, but honestly you'll be missing a great opportunity to be looking at the bigger picture. Through your business you are trying to build a critical number of relationships, and through these connections strengthen the value system that you want to see flourish in the world. Picking a critical number of business relationships to build, gives you the opportunity to practice having faith in every personal connection and motivates you to remain productive during down times.

I don't know what Hint Jewelry's hundredth monkey will look like or when she will choose to join the gang, but until then I'm just enjoying working towards my critical number, sharing ideas, and laughing to myself that the magic could surprise me at anytime. What about you? Do you imagine a 100th monkey in your future?

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