StartUp Tip #10: Challenge all assumptions


There are five monkeys in a room, and there is a basket of bananas at the top of the ladder.

The monkeys, of course, want to climb the ladder to get the bananas, but every time one tries, they are all sprayed with cold water.

After a few times of being sprayed with cold water, the monkeys learn not to climb up the ladder to get the bananas.

The experimenters then take one monkey out and put a new monkey in, and the new monkey sees a banana. He thinks, ‘Hey, I am going to grab a banana,’ but when he tries to go up the ladder, the other monkeys grab him and pull him back.

The experimenters eventually systematically pull every monkey out, and now you have five new monkeys.

Anytime a new monkey comes in and tries to climb the ladder, they grab the monkey and pull it back, even thought none of the five have been sprayed by cold water.

Challenging all assumptions ensures that we don’t blindly follow assumptions and rules without fully understanding and questioning their rationale.

Sometimes the assumptions are self -imposed as the following story illustrates:

A tiger named Mohini that was in captivity in a zoo, was rescued from an animal sanctuary.

Mohini had been confined to a 10-by-10 foot cage with a concrete floor for 5 to 10 years.

They finally released her into this big pasture area.

With excitement and anticipation, they released Mohini into her new and expensive environment, but it was too late. The tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound, where she lived for the remainder of her life. She paced and paced in that corner until an area 10-by-10 feet was sworn bare of grass.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns.

No challenging assumptions may result living in prison long after the door has been opened for your freedom.

What past limitations, real or perceived, are you carrying as baggages?

Where in your life are you pacing in a 10-by-10 patch of grass?

Where are you afraid of getting sprayed with water, even though it’s never happened?

Often, everything you want is a mere inch outside of your comfort zone.

Some of the assumptions that needs to be challenged:

  • You need cash to start a business
  • You need an amazing product to start
  • You need 50 page business plan
  • You need amazing connections to succeed
  • You need to be popular in order to be respected
  • You need to come from the best business schools in order to succeed
  • You need an MBA in order to be a successful entrepreneur

These assumptions are like the 5 monkeys and Mohini.

To be an innovative and creative entrepreneur, you will have to challenge the status-quo.

Challenge all assumptions.

The best way to challenge assumption is to create things.








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