Wednesday, July 10, 2013

7/10/13 This is Not My Monkey

Your Mental Health Tip of the Day

I attended many, many professional development meetings and conferences and speeches in my other life as a college teacher. 

And now, years away from that life, I can safely say the single most important take-away I ever had, that I use and remind myself of to this very day, on an almost daily basis, is the cocktails monkeys.

We'd entered the ballroom and taken up seats at one of the many round tables only to discover a pile of brightly colored plastic cocktail monkeys piled in the center. We were told we needed to take a least one back home to place in our office with us. 

The speaker was discussing time management and guilt. 

Basically, certain personalities, who often are drawn to teaching because it feels as though you might make a difference and help someone in his or her life, tend to want to do too much and are often taken advantage of by those around them, both students and peers and administrators. They discover you will take on their responsibilities or messes and try to help them sort it out, at a detriment to your own time and energies and needs. 

So the lesson was this: whenever these people present you with a problem that is not yours and you have no time or energy to solve, you must stop yourself from pushing that realization aside and, instead, look at the little cocktail monkey hanging from your lamp, and remind yourself (and them) "This is not my monkey."

If you wanted to invest in a bunch, you could even hand them out as you showed them the door. Seriously, they sell them by the case of 1000, which sounds like a lot, but I guarantee you as an instructor, I'd have run out within a year. Heck, if I were physically in the same space as others now, I'd run through them, too. 

This is not my monkey. It's yours. You will have to figure out a way to deal with him without my involvement. Then show them the door and get on with your own flying monkey plans.

This is great advice, provided you can actually follow through and do it.  (I rarely do.)

I'm sure it helped settle into my brain because every single time the speaker said "not my monkey" I immediately thought of Inspector Clouseau and heard him say "minkey" in my head. At least he let them off with a warning...


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