Monkey Bridges And PRIDE

The monkey bridge loomed monstrously between us and success. If perchance you do not know about monkey bridges, picture and learn.

Jim and I were twelve and had our sights on being Eagle Scouts. Back then, you could not get there without a hiking merit badge; and that came a few miles after a mandatory twenty mile hike.

The monster hike day started early and was going well for the first five or six miles; and then came the monster hill. Twelve-year-old boys like to refer to most anything as monsters, e. g., monster sandwiches, monster hits into left field, and monster anything else that meets their varying standard for big. But the monster hill really was a monster.

Jim and I just sat there for a while, saying things like, ‘There’s the monster hill,’ and ‘It’s a monster sure enough.’

This went on for a while when I asked, ‘How are we ever going to get all the way up that monster?’

Without a second thought and with the certainty of all twelve-year-olds, Jim said, ‘We’re going to just do it;’ and do it we did.

Things went fine for a few more miles until it started to rain. The further we hiked, the more it rained, and the more soaked we got. Even that was not all that bad until we were about half way across a field and up to our canteens in mud. Between us and the trail into the woods was a creek, nearly out of its banks and rushing south, if you know what I mean.

I asked Jim, ‘How do we get across this monster creek?’

His approach had not changed. ‘We just do it;’ and do it we did.

A few miles along the path into the woods, we suddenly understood that not all monsters are created equal. There it was: the monster monkey bridge looming terrifyingly between us and our goal.

A rope was stretched across a deep ravine, with two more ropes stretched side-by-side above the first. The only way across, the only path to our success was to walk the bottom rope while holding on to the other two. If the picture is not clear, just think of the monkey bridge as the mother of all monsters.

Well, suffice it to say that we were both brought up short and forced to seriously consider our options. Whatever our choices, neither of us was going to be the first to just sit down and cry. Perhaps our best strategy would be to trudge back through the mud and see if we could get away with simply telling everyone that we had hiked twenty miles.

Jim flinched first. ‘How can we ever get across this monster? We’re going to die.’

My barely contained terror was about to consume me; but I said it anyway. ‘We’re going to just do it;’ and do it we did.


Learning about PRIDE came for me sometime after the mother of all monkey bridges. It did not come as a revelation or sudden insight but rather as a growing understanding of the process of getting on with getting on.

PRIDE starts with Preparation. To successfully cross life’s monkey bridges, you have to be prepared. This means that you read and learn about monkey bridges, talk to people who have crossed them before you, and practice every day as you face the challenges that confront you.

Preparation combines with Responsibility as you begin to master your monkey bridges. The key is to accept them as yours. They are your responsibility, not someone else’s. You cannot expect others to move them out of your way or cross them for you. More to the point, not crossing them or trying to convince people that you have when you have not is to fail the challenge, to surrender to the monster.

Imagining is the next element of PRIDE. You are prepared, you have accepted personal responsibility. Now imagine success. You see yourself across the monkey bridge. But remember, for Jim and I, getting across the ravine was not the success we had in mind. Success was being Eagle Scouts. What is success for you? That is the outcome you must imagine as you stand at the brink of your monkey bridge. That image is the one that will draw you forward.