The Parable of the Apsiring Gorilla

Written by
Written by

Deolu Akinyemi

Many people who have heard me speak, know that I am a story teller. I love stories, I enjoy hearing them as much as I enjoy sharing them. I have often discovered also that people love stories as well, so somehow we connect, and 5yrs after I speak somewhere, I still meet people that remind me of the stories that I told them. This shows me that story telling does work. While writing a story and telling them are two different things, I very well prefer to tell than to write, because in telling I get to feel the crowds pulse, read their excitement, follow the twists and turns, and tell the story in a unique way for every crowd. On Sunday I was opportuned to present this story before a crowd of about 1000 people, and truthfully, even I enjoyed the story in a different way.

Once upon a time, there was a young man. This young man had a dream, a goal an aspiration that one day he would become the number 1 clown in his country. He had gone for a seminar where he had been thought to analyze his skills and write down his goal and vision, and for him, it all pointed to being a clown of repute. As soon as he discovered this, he started searching for materials on clowning, and started reading and developing himself in earnest. He went to watch other clowns perform, interacted with a few people about his dreams and invested heavily in developing himself.

After a while, he started feeling a little restless. He felt similar to the way one would feel when the head is getting full of knowledge but there is nowhere to express it. He had studied hard, motivated himself time and time again, but had nowhere to express his passions and development. After thinking long and hard, he decided to approach a mentor of his, who interestingly advised him in the direction he had already been thinking – he should go out and look for a volunteer opportunity to express the skills he had been developing. He thought about the strategy he was going to use, should he go and perform for another clown for free, or should he just go to where there is a small crowd and display? He worked around his relationships and told his friends about it. Alas, one of his friends friends, got an opportunity for him to make use of a small birthday gathering to showcase his talent. He simply dressed up in his costume and planned to make a fool of himself while the visitors laughed. He was granted this opportunity. When he started a few people were paying attention, but gradually the crowd started forming around him, before long, he was the heartbeat of the gathering, it was fun. He decided to do this more often, even though there was no one paying.

One day, while he was performing and the crowds started growing, he was approached by a man who asked to see him after. The man told him that he enjoyed watching him, and had a job for him. He informed him that the gorilla in his zoo had just died, and he needed someone like him who could wear the gorilla suit he had made and behave like a gorilla. He promised him that he’ll make it worth his while, if only even a little. The young man thought about it, what he wanted was a clown job, what he was being offered was a gorilla job. Would being a gorilla today qualify him for a clown tomorrow? Are there skills he’ll develop in the gorilla world that he can apply to the clowning world? Would being a gorilla seat well on his CV? After much consideration, the young man decided to take the gorilla job.

His first day in the gorilla job was fun, people gathered round to watch him, the crowd was much, and he had fun just running around and begging for bananas. Gradually he added more innovation to his work, and kept the crowds coming back for more. He was the heartbeat of the zoo, his boss liked him, the crowd adored him, he was on top of his game! After some months, the crowds started reducing, the Lion just beside his cage started getting more attention than him. He tried hard as he could, but the Lion was clearly a more interesting animal. After thinking long and hard, in his quest to be competitive, he decided to climb his cage over to the lions cage and taunt the lion. This scene was the bomb, the crowds cheered and the number of visitors doubled. For this stunt, his boss gave him a salary raise. He had thought out of the box, and given the zoo more income. These rounds continued, as he would hang on to a rope in the lions den and dangle himself, the lion would roar but he’ll be out of reach. He continued this stunts, got a lot of salary increases, and the crowds kept coming back. He had reinvented himself, added new skills, become creative, raised the income of the zoo, and the customers were satisfied.

The stunts continued until one day, in his characteristic manner to dazzle the crowd, he dangled from a roap in the lions cage. He dangled and dangled until mysteriously and mistakenly, the rope snapped, and he found himself in the cold hard floor of the lions cage, in front of the lion he had taunted regularly for over 1 month. The entired audience moved back in shock, as their comedy movie, was about to turn into a horror movie. The lion was in shock for a few seconds, the gorilla still recovering from it’s own fall, staggered backwards preparing to make a run for dear life. The gorilla was the first to regain it’s full senses, it ran, the lion swiftly followed. The gorilla ran desperately, fully aware that a real gorilla might make it, but not a feebly young man in an overweight gorilla suit. As he ran he shouted, the lion followed. After a few rounds round the cage, the gorilla started losing steam, and the lion closed in. The gorilla’s shouts of “hum, hum”, were gradually making up the words “help!!! help!!!” for anyone who listend carefully enough. Alas, the gorilla tripped under the paws of the lion, with the gorilla down with his back on the ground, and the lion firmly on top of him with his mouth closing into the gorilla’s head, the lion wispered, “stop this nonsense that you are shouting, do you want them to fire us both?” 🙂

The Lessons

Typically, the stories are for the public, and the lessons for the disciples :). I’ll go ahead and share the lessons nonetheless, so that you may understand and learn. I’m sure that when we land on it together, we’ll probably generate a lot more lessons than would be written here. It’s a story that is still very much in development and any observations you make would be valuable too.

1. Seminars: The young man attended a seminar where he was taught to identify his skills, and write down his goals.

Seminars, trainings, reading and every effort at personal development is important. It is usually the starting point of all development and achievement.

2. Dreams and Goals: The young man had a dream. To be the No 1 Clown.

Do you have a dream? Where do you want to be in 5yrs time? If you can’t answer clearly, nobody will be able to help you. No wind blows in favour of a ship without rudder. Nobody can give a fruitful lift to someone who doesn’t know where (s)he’s going. If you stand on the road of life without a clear destination, what you are looking for is a one night stand. Do you have a dream that you are proud of? It doens’t matter if your dream makes other other people laugh, what matters is that it’s your dream, and you have found within yourself the possibilities of making it real. If all the citizens where presidents, who would they serve? Dream your dream, and don’t let anyone make you feel inferior about it.

3. Self Development: He started searching for materials and investing in his development. He also went to watch other clowns perform.

How many books have you read about your area of passion? Mike Murdock once said that until a man or woman has read as many books as his/her age on the topic of interest, the topic is not yet a topic of interest. Are you developing yourself for your dream or goal, or are you kidding? Once vision is clear and written, the that reads must run. What are you doing to invest in yourself? Who do you know that does what you dream to do? Are you watching them, or are you building something that does not have role models?

4. Speak out: He interacted with a few people about his dreams.

You need to get your dream out in public domain. Why? Because it’s not everytime that you’ll be the first to hear about the opportunity that will bring you out. Sometimes, your friends get to hear about it, and they’ll tell you about it. Before anybody will tell you about something however, your name must resonnate with that opportunity. If your friends think about your name, what opportunity comes to their mind? If nothing comes to mind when your friends, or associates think about you, it’s not likely they’ll link you up with anything. Two nights ago, I was summoned by one of the Preachers i respect most in Nigeria, i was with him till close to midnight, and he shared an opportunity with me. This opportunity was created because he spoke about something, and someone remembered my name. What career resonnates with your name?

5. Mentorship and Guidance: He sought out his mentor when he was in the corridor of making decisions.

In the multitude of counsellors, there is safety – says the holy book. Where there is access to counsel, safety is guaranteed. When in doubt, have people you can ask. If we all had perfect foresight, we’ll live lives without mistakes, but we can always benefit from the hindsight of others. It’s only a fool, that wants to learn at all costs from his own mistakes.

6. Volunteer: He took opportunities to do what he loved for free.

Life doesn’t always offer us what we want the day we want it and how we want it. The world doesn’t meet anybody half way, if you want it, you’ve got to go for it. This young man decided to start somewhere, to give himself expressions free of charge. I started writing on this blog consistently before it ever fetched me a dime. I volounteered, and trust me, it has changed my fortune. It’s empty heads that sit at him and do nothing. A man will need to open his mouth for very long before roasted meat will come inside. At times all you need is one opportunity, and atimes you may need to do it over and over again without fainting before your reward will come. Do not be weary of good doing, for you will reap the reward in due season, provided you do not faint – get weak and stop.

7. Relationships: His friends friend found him an opportunity to showcase his skills.

We underplay the role of relationships, we make it sound demeaning that someone used leg :). Take it or leave it however, relationships are the fibres that makes the textile of life come together. The shortest unit of distance is not in meters it’s in friends. Your network is your networth. Authority is a function of who you know, even spiritual authority. We have gone past the age where we tell ourselves it’s what you know that matters not who you know. Today, it’s what you know, who you know, who knows you, and for what? Who you know will open the door, what you know will keep you in the door. If you are sure that you already know, pls invest in knowing who. Relationships are vital, and they can get you very far. If you know God, it’s good, cos he sits in heaven and the earth is his footstool, that’s as long as any leg can get!

8. Align and Start: The young man wanted to be a clown, but he aligned and started with a Gorilla’s job.

Atimes what you want is not what you get, but what you get, could be a path to what you want. Before you say NO, think, can this lead me ultimately to what I want? Be willing to start at the bottom, the only things that starts from the top is the grave, and perhaps a well, and you don’t want to be in either. Don’t be too picky at the start, start. Don’t be too much in a hurry to make it, there is a good time for everything. Trust me, even the people you see and feel are fast, are wishing they don’t miss some important aspects of their lives.

9. Self Development is Continuous: As a gorilla, he had to pick new skills, and be innovative

You will never get to that place in your life when you know it all, and where what you had yesterday would be good enough for today. Like Michaelangelo said on his death bed -“Still i am learning”. We must keep learning and keep improving ourselves until we die. We must stay innovative, think outside the box, and challenge ourselves to better our best. If you get the job that is okay for you to start with, don’t stop there. Challenge the status quo, better your yesterday. That’s the stuff promotions and salary increases are made up of.

10. Fear Not: He was face to face with the lion, and discovered, that the lion was man like him 🙂

Fear is false evidence appearing real, most of our fears we find out eventually are not real. There are times when we come face to face with what has kept us running for months, only to discover that we just placed ourselves under unnecessary pressure. We go for interviews and feel at the mercies of interviewers, not realizing that like us, they are just men or women who also have deliverables. What is the point of fear? Fear not! Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen? Convince yourself that the worst is not the end of your life, and move without no respect for the fear that paralyzes initiatives. Be courageous.

I’m stopping here, so that you can add your own lessons learnt. Have a great weak ahead.

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