Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boiling Frogs

By Julie Rahm

Boiling frogs is an acquired skill learned through patience. Frog boiling expertise gets passed from one person to the next by mentorship and example. The challenge to frog boiling is that placing the frog in already boiling water will result in the frog jumping out of the pot. Even worse, the frog will not get back into the pot once he knows the water is hot. The secret method to properly boiling a frog is to start the frog comfortably in a pot of cool water and gradually turn up the heat. Soon, the frog is boiled and he didn’t see it coming.

So often, we rush in with boiling water in order to get our way. We want the 100-percent solution immediately. The impatient throw the frog right into the boiling water. And, the frog jumps out. Like the frog, people are driven by self-preservation and are rarely changed by having “boiling water” or harsh words thrown on them. A better method for change is to build consensus. Then, slowly turn up the heat and work out the things you don’t agree on.

As a personal example, I boiled my frog husband, John into cooking some of our meals. Instead of demanding he cooks now that he has retired, I suggested he try cooking as an outlet for his creativity. When he did cook, I boiled him with lavish praise. Soon, he was doing a lot of the cooking. Now he shops for food and plans most of the meals. It took more than a year. He is completely boiled into cooking and he didn’t see it coming.

As another example, I wanted to adopt “Tank”, our puppy from the Pet Parlor. John said no! So, I started bringing Tank home for afternoon play days. We returned Tank to the Pet Parlor after a few hours. Soon, John was sad to see Tank go home. The frog was boiled and Tank is now part of the family. And, John and Tank are inseparable.

If you’re feeling badly for John, no need. John has been retired for three years. I am still working. And we have two boats. I have been the frog.

So, my message this week is to have patience. Don’t rush in to pound others into your way of thinking. Consider my metaphorical tools to help achieve your desired end state. The level tells you emotions are too high and the water is too hot for the frog. The flashlight lights the way to compromise. The pliers can pull out those feeling of impatience and the hammer can construct a good long term plan that everyone can live with. However, one word of caution, its good to know if you’re about to be the frog!

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