A group of researchers carried out a study at a zoo on some chimpanzees. These chimpanzees were secluded in a specific area where they placed a number of steps, imitating a staircase, in the middle of the cage. Before they began their study, the chimpanzees were not fed for one whole day. Next morning, the hominids woke up to see a banana dangling from a cord in the centre of their cage, two meters above the steps, which was just the right height to prevent them from reaching it, no matter how hard they tried to jump and grab hold of it.
At dawn, when the banana was revealed by the rays of the sun, they all ran towards the steps and fought over taking turns to stand on the last step in order to jump up and try to and catch it. The strongest took turns, but none of them managed to reach the banana, even though they jumped over and over again. It wasn’t until midday when it became obvious which of the chimpanzees was the strongest and the leader, even though the banana remained out of reach, it had earned the right to be on the last step and the closest to the banana. The rest of them held their status and step accordingly. Every so often, they would try to fight over reaching the next step, including the highest. They all received their share of bumps and thumps, but none of them were able to reach the precious fruit. At the end of the day, the steps were removed and they were all fed.
The monkeys were faced with the same experience, every other day in order to prevent them from starvation. After repeating the same sessions a number of times, they no longer hung a banana from a cord, but the steps were left in the middle of the cage and they went back to their normal diet and feeding times. The scientists monitored their behaviour and much to their surprise, the chimps continued with the acquired behaviour of climbing up the steps only to be followed and attacked by their fellow cage mates for having tried to be the first to try and reach the top. Quite surprising!
After some time, the research moved on to another stage and chimps from other zoos joined the group in the same enclosure. Nothing much happened, there were no major changes. Each time a newcomer tried to climb to the top step, it would receive its share of blows from the rest. The new chimps would scratch their heads without understanding what it was all about. Nevertheless, they quickly followed the group’s behaviour and imitated it. They had forgotten why they were beating each other up. It had become a habit and was senseless: There was no ulterior motive for such cruel behaviour, which was triggered off every time they faced with critical events or situations. This behaviour was passed on from one chimp to another, until it was from parents to siblings and from one generation to the next.
We know that in the beginning, when we appeared on planet Earth, we had vast amounts of resources; food a favourable climate and all our needs were taken care of. Tens of thousands of years ago, planet Earth was inhabited by very few humans. Our population has increased rapidly ever since. Therefore, we are under pressure because we have outnumbered the available the natural resources; we are lacking food, more and more; we no longer have vast amounts of unexplored land; little by little, without even realising what has been taking place, we have fought many battles and suffered the aftermath of crises. Both the climate and the remaining land cause adverse effects.
We are about to reach 10.000 million people living on the same planet we appeared on, which is our homeland!!! No wonder we associate work with suffering from stress and feeling forced to work. Back in the beginning, and that is a long time ago, it was like a dream. We had it all in our favour. The simple task of harvesting what grew naturally, together with a climate that suited our species, were beneficial. Competing and fighting constantly over the resources has ended in a crisis. This has left a deep wound and we will suffer the pain we brought upon ourselves. Those wonderful days we lived, those days when we had more than we needed and must have been the closest to paradise, have gone. Gone for good, never to come back?
While we go back to talking about the effort required to carry out a task and the determination to succeed in achieving our aims, let’s just leave our subconscious mind to work things out.
Work, effort and determination, ever since I was a child, I was accustomed to seeing the effort and hard work required to fulfil any tasks successfully. “Where there is a will, there is a way” I think that it can be very satisfying, for any of us, to feel we have done a good job. It is a good feeling. I would like to share some of my thoughts and opinions on these somewhat complex concepts. The purpose of the following paragraphs is to invite you to think about and share your opinion on these time-worn complex concepts.
The photograph of a duckling has a pleasant effect on us. Likewise, the image of a swan swimming gracefully and effortlessly, on a lake, has a similar effect. There is nothing effortless about what really takes place underwater. There is a tremendous amount of activity taking place below the surface, those little webbed feet are making a tremendous effort that facilitate swimming.
We need to be aware of such contradictions in order to be fair when it comes to evaluating or making any comments. Independently, whether it is related to healthcare, a company, the Town Hall, the barracks or even a parish, they all need to fulfil their commitments efficiently. Each and every one of them must meet their clients’ needs and carry the burden of their responsibilities and obligations. Assisting parishioners’ petitions and solving taxpayers’ issues in due time; notwithstanding, a healthy financial situation and being empathetic when dealing with fellow humans. Work should always be based on good teamwork and its team players (even though we’re not even aware of the fact of what takes place behind the scene). It is in fact a great achievement. We acknowledge the fact that things do not happen just by luck. It is the outcome of a large chain of people fulfilling their tasks adequately and each one of them is important. Each person is like a link that form part of a huge chain; each link has to be in the right place and act accordingly to their functions and responsibilities, whichever it may be. There cannot be any missing links.
Once, a little girl accompanied her mother to a local farm. They both spent some time watching a hen brooding in her nest. The time came for the eggs to hatch. All except one, had managed to breakthrough the eggshell. The little girl had been watching the whole time and turned her head and asked her mother if she could help the last chick to hatch. Her mother agreed and the little girl was extremely careful while she removed the small pieces of the eggshell, one at a time, with her fingers. At last, the chick was freed! She carefully placed the chick next to its siblings so it could feel their warmth. That same night, the chick died.
If we want to go back to the importance that achievements imply when performing any kind of effort or action whilst completing such tasks, this story takes us further along the line. Nature is very wise and it teaches us many lessons: the effort required to being born is vital and is crucial within the process of creating life. Nothing in life is achieved without making an effort. Making an effort is part of our basic natural instimct.
There was a man who loved fishing, nothing else caused the same joy and passion as fishing did. He lived in a region where there was just one lake. This lake was the only place where he could go fishing and practice his favourite hobby. He spent his life fishing in that lake, even though there were never any fish in it.
We know that making an effort and hard work are not a mere activity. It is not just about dedicating hours to fulfilling a task or simply making an effort; work is not about spending our working hours without any targets or further achievements. We also know that making an effort, in an efficient way, will lead us to succeed in productivity. Within the business environment, the art world and why not helping others worldwide, too? We share common grounds in our own interest and being productive as employees, all working and making an effort to follow the same direction, all aiming to accomplish the same goals, which is one of our biggest assets; to put our energy and effort into our work and succeed in achieving our goals is what we harvest in return, whether we are self-employed or work for a company. We should give more and expect less in return.
One friend told another: «You would never guess what happened to me. There was this cat in my neighbourhood that would keep me awake most nights. It could spend endless hours meowing loudly. One day, I managed to get hold of the cat and put it in my car and drove about 10 kilometres away from home and set it free. It would no longer be a problem. Back at home, I happened to look out the window and, you know what?, there it was, back in the same spot on the roof and meowing out loud!!!» The other friend answered: «Good job the cat was smart enough to find its way back; in fact, you have been very cruel to it!» «Hold on, the story does not end yet», answered the first, «I managed to get hold of the cat again and this time I drove 30 kilometres away from home. Two days later there it was, back again, mewing its head off on top of the roof!!!». «Good for the cat!», answered the other friend, «in any case, you should have taken it to a shelter for cats and not just abandoned it». The first continued by saying: «Well, I have more to tell you about it..., once again, I caught hold of it, but this time I drove about 100 kilometres, up a mountain range, down across the valleys, drove past some lakes,...» His friend interrupted him to say: «You mean to say, that you got rid of it…». «Not at all….», answered the other, «if it hadn’t been for the cat I would have never come back»
Which is our best ally when it comes to making an effort and working hard? Determination. Farmers know a lot about working hard and determination: they plough their fields, sow the seeds, fertilise the crops and prune them and persevere in keeping up their hard work. They spend the rest of the time watering their crops because they know that is, probably, where the secret lies and all their hard work and a good crop to harvest are at stake. This analogy helps me persevere whenever I am working on something; that cat always comes to my mind!
More than ten publishers rejected Joanne Rowling’s works on “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. Nevertheless, she never gave up. Every time she stumbled and fell, she picked herself up and went for another try, she persevered in achieving her goal. The more obstacles she encountered, the more determined she became to hurdle them all until she found a small editorial that agreed to publish her books. Nowadays, we all know that her works have been translated into many languages and have made millions of children happy, worldwide.
Determination is a virtue and by nurturing it ,we will very likely, have more chances to succeed and benefit from our efforts and hard work. As a result, we will harvest crops according to what we have sown.
There was a girl who had a German Shepard as a pet and she was about to go on holiday. She was faced with a problem about how to take care of the dog while she was away. She didn’t know what to do. She decided to ask a friend of hers to look after it and much to her dismay, she came back only to find out that her dog had died after suffering a short but devastating illness. She was furious when she spoke to her friend and told him: «What a lack of empathy! You should have contacted me: a WhatsApp, a text message, or something»
The following summer, when she was about to take her vacations, she was faced with the same problem since she had adopted a kitten a few months before. Once again, she asked her friend to look after het cat while she was away. Not a week had gone by when she received a text message that read: " your cat got run over by a car and died. I’m sorry! ". By the time she got back she was not just furious, she completely lost it when she told her friend: «What a lack of tactfulness. You could have been more empathetic and diplomatic when you texted me with the bad news. I mean, surely you could have sent me more than one straightforward message with such sad news. Maybe if you had sent me a few to make things easier to assimilate, it would have helped. Something like: “Your kitten jumped out of the window and climbed up an almond tree”; the next day you could have sent me another one “Your kitten fell from the tree and is in bad shape”; on the third day and last message it might have been better to say: “Your kitty didn’t make it, I’m sorry». Her friend had nothing to say except that he was very sorry for not having been more tactful and he would keep it mind.
A year later, she is on holiday when she receives a WhatsApp with the following message: «your grandmother has climbed up an olive tree».
Even though we don’t get it right the first time, or the second, we should continue persevering and never give up. A Chinese proverb says: «If you fall seven times, you pick yourself up eight times»
This is the way to become aware of the hard work, effort and determination, among other values, that are required to achieve our wellbeing. The same wellbeing we wish for our friends, family members and ourselves. On a long-term basis, this is what it takes to recover what we once lost (even though you can hardly compare our origins with our lifestyle nowadays) we can work hard and make as much effort, as is necessary, to thrive on our wellbeing. Therefore, we need to persevere more than ever to discover new findings; it also takes innovation, researching and creativity to come up with new inventions. Going back to the story about the little girl and the chick: creation does not exist without making an effort. This is how we can work to transform the world, it has become much more technological and offers us the opportunity to enhance our virtues, abilities and assets and shine.
Obviously, those countries that have developed more than others have more chances of achieve wellbeing, cutting down on expenses, the cost of food and any basic needs. They will be closer to the old days when we lived surrounded by abundance. We need to keep up the hard work in order to improve on a daily basis and reach our common targets: find time to let our imagination run wild and free, taking advantage of our creativity but, above all, we need to have time to give and share with others.
However, just one more suggestion before I end. We are all aware of the fact that progress and competition walk hand-in-hand. If such a fierce rivalry did not exist between us; between organisations; between countries and business, there would be no evolution; we would be incapable of go any further. This is what it takes to stir our needs, we are forced to work hard, make an effort and have the determination to endure high levels of emotional pressure and keep going under stressful situations; not having enough time for everything and everyone.
Maybe one day we will be able to achieve it, without such fierce competition taking place, no matter what, to succeed. Perhaps, when the day comes that in our childhood we manage to understand that the only road to wellbeing, feeling proud of our work and happy while performing the required tasks is based on hard work, putting all of our energy into it and determination to succeed. If we were to reach that point, that would be the moment to transmit all that powerful energy and use it to innovate, discover and continue improving to stay on the right track. That is, without ever forgetting our happiness and mindfulness along the way. Do you think we would be able to achieve this on our own through our hard work, putting ourselves into it and having the determination without falling in the same old traps we keep falling in, such as organisations we form part of and have become dehumanised?
Don’t you think it is worth giving it a try to make this dream come true? As we walk along the road, why not try making the journey easier and more enjoyable for all of us?
How to improve our creativity through nutrition and sport. My experience in an eBook
Comments are closed.