Shut Your Monkey: Productivity, Creativity, and Stress

This month’s Professional Development webinar was on the topic of Productivity, Creativity and Stress.

If you missed it you can download the recording.

Members of Azzarello group can download this and all webinars for free:
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For this webinar, I had the pleasure of interviewing Danny Gregory, who is the author of a new book called Shut Your Monkey: How to Control Your Inner Critic and Get More Done.

I thought this was such an important conversation because we all have an inner critic, and Danny has some wonderful and practical insights for how you can deal with your inner critic — and get on with your productive and creative life with more confidence.

I often talk about the fact that is OK to be scared… and that you should never disqualify yourself for something you want to try because you are scared. Being scared does not disqualify you. Sometimes you need to be scared and act anyway.

But Danny advances this thought in such a useful way, I was thrilled to be able to share it with you.

1. The Monkey is not YOU

Danny helped us see this first critical point: That inner critic is not US.

We are the person who wants do and create great, important stuff. The voice that is saying, “You’re not good enough, you’ll never succeed, no one will: trust you, like you, be impressed by you, your idea is bad, it will never fly”...etc —

That negative voice that we all have inside of us telling us we can’t do it — IS NOT US — it is the voice of another annoying little creature that is always trying to sabotage us.

For me separating that voice as being something different than just part of myself, was a big eye-opener.

When I thought it was a part of myself, that voice was just another part of myself that I didn’t like, or felt bad about. But when I gave it it’s own identity, (not me) it was much easier to say, “Shut up, you are not helping me so just be quiet”.

For me, and for a lot of people, I think that voice manifests as fear. You have to remember that we all have fear.

There is no creativity –there is no forward progress without fear. Once you know that your fear is part of this other creature that is out to get you, you can befriend your fear and say to it, “I know you are here because you are always here, so you don’t need to go away, but you don’t get to tell me what to do”...

Danny had a wonderful discussion with the listeners on the webinar about his book and his inner critic — which in his mind is a Monkey. He taught us how to control the Monkey.

I highly recommend buying his book, Shut Your Monkey.

And I highly recommend downloading the recording of our conversation.

Danny shared 2 other big points which I thought were very powerful.

2. Productivity Before Judgement

So how do you control the monkey? Danny taught us about the concept of productivity before judgement.

What keeps the monkey quiet is work. Don’t question the work, don’t judge the work, just start.

As a writer I love a line in his book that says, “If all you do is sit down at your computer, put your fingers on the keyboard and look at the screen, that is way better than not doing that”.

Don’t judge what you do before you start. Just do it. Create a mountain of work. It won’t all be good but it doesn’t matter. It’s the work itself that keeps the monkey quiet.

Danny gave an example, explaining that if you sit down to write a great novel (or a perfect business plan or presentation), when you first sit down if you try to start by creating a great, finished product you won’t do it, because the monkey will tell you, “you can’t do it”.

But if you just start working…if you just start, without judgement…and you create a lot of work…then the lion will come…

3. The Lion, The creative Genius

The lion is the creative genius. But lions are lazy. Lions sleep 20 hours a day! But when they are awake they do an amazing amount of work in a short time. When the lion comes, that’s when you can sift through that pile of work and find the genius in it. That’s when you can truly create the great thing you are committed to.

But as Danny writes, “the lion needs to see that you are serious… the lion will not invite you to put down the remote control and join him”. It needs to see your mountain of work to become interested enough to come and help you.

I love this metaphor because I have experienced this personally. I bet you have too — at those moments in your life when you were really brilliant. You start with a bunch of work that’s not very good, but then there is a moment when it just works…You find your way. You find the answer.

If you try to start by creating something brilliant right off the bat, that gives the monkey too much opportunity to tell you that you are not brilliant enough.

But if you just start with the work, the monkey just has to sit there. You can tell him, “Yes, I see it’s you again. You have a fine point, but shut up, I’m busy”.

Thank you very much to Danny Gregory for taking the time to talk with us. It was wonderful conversation and I think that this is so very important.

Learn more from Danny Gregory


Download the webinar
Get Danny’s Book: Shut Your Monkey
Visit:, to find his blog and other books.

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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.


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