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The Three Wise Monkeys (Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru)

The Three Wise Monkeys are named Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru.  The concept of the Three Wise Monkeys is said to have originated with Buddhism some 1300 years ago.  Today, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is commonly used to describe someone who doesn’t want to be involved in a situation or someone who does not accept the facts that are clearly in front of them.  Another succinct translation is “don’t see, don’t hear and don’t talk”.

Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru can teach us a lot about what to look for, what to listen for and what to say in our lives and in our businesses.

Let’s start with Mizaru (see no evil):

How often in conversation have we heard someone say: “hindsight is 20 – 20” or “the writing was on the wall” or “I didn’t see it coming”?  These sayings each have to do with visioning or seeing.   They exist in every-day language because this lack of seeing or visioning is all around us.  We do it, our friends do it our allies and our competitors do it.   Have you ever wondered why?  The answer is simple…  It is easier to avoid a pending issue that is right in front of us than it is to face it.

Mizaru, with his hands over his eyes, is the symbol of avoiding the obvious – of not wanting to see “the writing on the wall”.

The solution to this is to create clarity in what you are looking to achieve.  Create a clear picture in your mind for your success and achievements.  Once you have a clear vision, plot your path or trajectory and embrace a tracking system to monitor progress.

Avoid the urge to put your hands over your eyes.  Creating a clear vision is the surest way for us to achieve what we want out of our businesses and our lives.

What about Kikazaru (hear no evil)?

Hendy David Thoreau summed it up nicely when he said: “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.

We don’t actually have to physically have our hands over our ears to not listen. Often when people talk to each other, we don’t listen attentively.  Our lives are busy.  We are easily distracted by other demands.  We think about what we want to say rather than what the other person is saying.   In our private lives, such attitudes often result in misunderstanding, conflicts, and broken relationships.  In business, not listening can be disastrous.

These are habits and habits can be broken.  Here’s a trick.  Treat the people you are talking with (notice I said “with” and not “to”) as people who want to achieve extraordinary results. Imagine yourself there to help them achieve success.  Listen to words. Listen to emotions.  Listen for needs.

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” -  Robert McCloskey

Once you are done listening, make sure you’ve heard what you think you have heard.
Sometimes people don’t listen because they know they are not going to like what they hear.  Most often, people don’t listen because they feel more compelled to make their point rather than understand someone else’s.

If you find yourself not listening, for whatever reason, think of the monkey Kikazaru and mentally take your hands off your ears.  This for some may be a new feeling.  Enjoy the ride.

Iwazaru (speak no evil):

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.” – Albert Einstein

In today’s polite society, we’ve grown to believe in the above quote.  We, like Iwazaru, put our hands over our mouths to avoid saying anything that we think may appear offensive.  That includes telling people what we are good at.

In business, instead of being specific about our target audience and how our unique offering adds value to that audience, we build “feel good” motherhood statements about things like exceptional service and outstanding value.   How often have you seen advertisements where businesses are trying to be everything to everyone?  How often do you see advertisements that claim things like “we are the best”, “we aim to please” and “something for everyone”?

Being successful in business is not about “keeping your mouth shut”.  It is about being very specific about our strengths.  To be successful we need to be able to clearly articulate who we serve, how we are unique and the value that uniqueness has to that audience.    Shouting that from the rooftops is not “saying evil”.  An effective targeted strategy will ensure the right people know what you can do for them.  You message will resonate and be appreciated.

The combined Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru learning:

  • Create an image of where you want to go and use every tool you can find to keep focused on that vision.
  • Listen openly to your clients, allies and competitors with the intention of learning and taking action based on what you hear.
  • Once you have that clarity about what you want to achieve, communicate your intentions openly and unabashedly in order to attract the right people.

How can SuccessQuest help?

The SuccessQuest  program is designed around working with a business coach to build clarity around strengths, passions and vision.  Once the desired outcome is clearly defined, a plan is created (a SuQu Map™) complete with accountability and measurement metrics.  For more information about the SuccessQuest formula, contact us at 888.887.7599 or send an email to

We’ve “seen” how businesses can benefit from coaching and concise business planning.  We’ve “listened” to stories about successes (and failures) and have build software and coaching methodology to propel success.  We unabashedly “tell” people what we are good at – helping business leaders and entrepreneurs achieve unthinkable success in their businesses.  Call us today.  We would relish the opportunity.

PS: The Fourth Monkey

Did you know there is a fourth monkey called Shizaru who symbolizes the principle of “do no evil” or “don’t do”?  He is often depicted crossing his arms over his abdomen.  That monkey however, is a story for another day.

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