Power of Choice: Kitten or Baby Monkey?

Nov 27, 2015

Power of Choice: Kitten or Baby Monkey?


When was the last time you picked yourself?

The last time you made a choice that changed your perception?

Made a choice that set you free?

That enlightened you?


Perhaps the better question is, when was the last time you sought permission to do something? The last time you wanted to win the approval of a boss, a friend or someone in your community? The last time you took action only after someone said, “That’s a great idea!”


Most of us – at least for me – have been taught how to follow instructions and evolve based on what society taught us. We have been taught to seek approval before we take meaningful action. It has to “make sense” before we risk our time, energy and resources.


It’s the safe choice. Why do anything if it might not work?

For many of us our behaviors, desires and beliefs are influenced by the society we are a part of. In the early years, our society was chosen for us and we were forced to adapt and comply in order to survive. As we get older, we have the option to change how we associate with our society and how much influence it has over us.


Most of us don’t. Not when we can and not when we should have. We stick with what we have been taught. We are content with sticking to the status quo and what society has taught us, without daring to challenge what is possible in our own little world at the risk of failing miserably.


It’s the safe choice. But is it the right choice?

Seth Godin in his book, The Icarus Deception, shares the Japanese words, “tariki” and “jiriki,” the philosophy behind them and correlation between the words and kittens and baby monkeys.


Tariki 他力

Seeking higher authority to move forward.

Waiting to be “chosen.”

Jiriki 自力

Liberation and enlightenment through one’s own efforts.

Choosing one’s self.


Seth Godin goes on to share that when a kitten is in danger, its mother picks it up by its neck and carries it to safety.

The baby monkey, on the other hand, must choose to grab onto the mother’s back or risks being left behind.


The kitten must be chosen to survive while the baby monkey must choose to survive.


Tariki is the helpless kitten that needs to be saved.

Jiriki is the baby monkey that chooses to save himself.


The question I have for you is, “Are you the kitten or the baby monkey?”

Are you happy with the correlation or would you rather change?


The ability to choose one’s self (and skip the “waiting for approval” process) is a fundamental principle for people that want to make change in their own life or to make a difference in the world.


I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a kitten (tariki) for most of my life, but I’m finally choosing to become a baby monkey and embrace jiriki. This entire year has been a journey through self-choice, a step into the unknown, letting go of validation and choosing to pursue interests I was waiting on (for the perfect time, the perfect situation, the permission to move forward).


What have you been wanting to do – in your work, love life, hobbies, passions, communities and life – but have been waiting for someone to give you the “green light” to go through with it?


If you are a kitten and have been waiting for your “permission,” stop practicing tariki.

Become a baby monkey.

Embrace jiriki.


Choose yourself.

You are the only permission that you need.

Take a step forward.

Speak up.

Take a chance.

Try something new.

Nobody will make the choice to change your life for you.

Make the choice for yourself.