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YOU! HAVE THE POWER | Dr. Ellen Brown

June 15, 2021 by  
Filed under Community

Go Get Your Bananas



You may know the “monkey and the banana” story traveling about the Internet in various blogs and articles. It is about five monkeys, a ladder and a banana tree; the key takeaway being the innate behavior of not challenging assumptions.

A researcher explored the fact/fiction behind the story, based on a 1966 study, “What Monkeys Can Teach Us About Human Behavior.”

Apparently, monkeys love bananas and will do anything to get them. Almost. In this study the first group of monkeys were given access to the trees, but not to the bananas at the top. They would attempt to navigate to the top — but turn around when they sensed they could not. As the experiment went on through generations of monkeys, it got to the point where monkeys used in the study had never successfully conquered the bananas. When they tried, other monkeys pulled them back until they gave up.

Generations later, this test is still going on with the same results.What can we learn from this experiment?

First of all, let’s acknowledge that people are not monkeys, but humans with capabilities far beyond those of monkeys. However, let’s face the truth: humans are also creatures of habit. Consider how often our decisions are based on habit versus new information, dialogue, and collaboration.

Second, how do we address new ideas? An old saying goes like this: There are three types of people — those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

Third — and this final concept sums up the focus of “You Have the Power” — understand that creativity, knowledge and awareness are forces that propel us beyond the status quo, or the belief that there is a “they” factor keeping us from getting to the top of the banana tree.

Look around: how many opportunities are available in our communities designed to create and effect change? Often, I have not felt the urge or comfort to participate in something, knowing it is important to change; but when I get the energy and courage to act, miraculous power and knowledge appears.

The five monkeys’ experiment, therefore, teaches us that as humans, we have the capability to constantly challenge ourselves, to look at things in a new light —to question things that do not always feel right, and finally, to throw out the excuse of “we’ve always done it this way” to avoid branching out in new directions. If we truly want that “banana,” we must get creative and try new ways of thinking and doing.

How can we focus on building a culture that doesn’t douse the torch of intelligence, creativity, ingenuity, or innovation, but instead encourages experimental problem-solving?

It starts with “I.”

I will use my intelligence to seek truth. I will use my truth to create knowledge. I will use my knowledge to activate power and I will use my power to facilitate change. Go get your bananas. You have the power.

Dr. Ellen Brown is an affiliate faculty member at Regis University, Denver. Contact Dr. Brown at

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