A fascinating experiment was conducted on animal intelligence back in the mid-1950s. A hungry chimpanzee was placed alone in an empty room where a bunch of bananas had been suspended from the ceiling. The only other item in the room was a 10-foot long pole propped up against the wall.

The scientists locked the door and began filming through a window. It was a test of the chimp’s cognitive and problem-solving abilities. They wanted to see if the animal would be ingenious enough to use the pole to knock the bunch of bananas to the floor.

But the unfortunate chimp just sat there, ignoring the long pole, staring hungrily up at the bananas, which remained tantalizingly out of reach…

…for three, long hours.

In frustration, one of the lab-coated researchers entered the room, grabbed the pole and demonstrated for the chimp exactly how the tool could be used to capture his meal. The chimp watched intently as the human poked at the bananas.

Suddenly, the chimp leaped to its feet and jumped on the man’s back, startling him. As the Ph.D. flailed his arms, screaming, the chimp climbed up onto his shoulders, stood on his head, grabbed the bunch of bananas, wrestled them to the floor and began gobbling them up, after which the scientist picked up his broken eyeglasses and limped out of the room, disheveled and humbled.

Was the chimpanzee smarter than the Ph.D…. or did the Ph.D. simply lack sufficient counterintuitive skills?

Contrary to popular belief, counterintuitive does not refer to the teenage girl at the order station in the fast-food joint and her uncanny ability to guess whether or not “you want fries with that.”

Counterintuitive is essentially defined as “contrary to what your common sense (or your intuition) tells you.”

Perhaps the scientist made an intuitive assumption that the chimp would choose to use a tool to capture the bananas. But the counterintuitive line of thinking would have been the correct one: to reason that since bananas grow in trees and chimpanzees live in trees, that the approved chimp protocol for banana acquisition would be to climb up to get them and not use a tool to knock them down and, as impossible as it might seem, the chimp would wait for the perfect “climbing opportunity” to present itself – ironically in the form of the scientist’s head.

Intuitive and counterintuitive reactions and their resulting behaviors are an interesting manifestation of the right-brain / left-brain paradigm. The right brain of that scientist (the source of his emotion, intuition and creativity) gave birth to his creative inspiration that the chimp would recognize and then utilize a tool to get his supper.

But the left brain (the source of his logic and cognitive reasoning), if properly employed, might have deduced that the chimp, a tree-dweller by nature, would want to climb up for his prize.

Historically, following one’s counterintuition often yields wonderful results:

• For millennia it was believed that the sun revolved around the Earth. The scientific truth discovered by Copernicus – that the Earth revolved around the sun – was counterintuitive.

• Another scientific truth, that the Earth is round, is counterintuitive to the primitive belief that it is flat.

• In the world of commercial fishing, common sense or intuition tells us to catch the big fish and throw the little ones back. But that habit could trigger an evolutionary process wherein nature might “select” smaller fish for survival. Therefore, the counterintuitive and perhaps the correct strategy would be to throw back the big fish (allowing them to continue to breed) and throw back the small fish (allowing them to continue to grow) and just harvest the medium size fish.

Intuition compels many parents, especially mothers, to over-protect their small children. This can have the unwanted effect of making them even more vulnerable. The counterintuitive approach would be to allow the kids to endure minor bumps and bruises so they can learn valuable lessons from their mistakes and thus be more prepared to make better choices for themselves.

As a Whole Being – one who employs both hemispheres of the brain – try to consider taking the counterintuitive path, at the end of which the greatest benefits may await you.
While we’re on the subject of chimpanzees, did you know that you probably follow your instincts and peel bananas the wrong way? Think about it – you break open the peel at the stem end, right? And you do that why, exactly? Because the stem cries out, “grab me!” Well, guess how chimps unpeel their bananas? They open the opposite end. They do it the counterintuitive way.

Well, counterintuitive to us higher primates, at least.

Have you ever had a difficult time cracking open a banana peel? Next time, try opening the end without the stem.

You’ll be a smart as a chimpanzee.

Author's Bio: 

Bruce Raymond Wright
Inventor, Entrepreneur, Author, Trainer, Speaker and Mentor

Bruce has over two decades of practical ‘in the trenches’ success helping those around him transcend their greatest challenges and optimize results in an array of complex areas including:

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Bruce’s first book, The Wright Exit Strategy; Wealth – How To Create It, Keep It and Use It, has helped tens of thousands of people to improve control over their lives, business endeavors, philanthropy and wealth management. His next book, Living Majestically; An Elephant’s Guide, will help all who apply its teachings to know how to identify and implement new thinking, behaviors and the skills necessary to live life more majestically!

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