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Eating Life’s Frogs

“If you have two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”-Brian Tracy

A few years ago, there was a popular reality TV show called “Fear Factor.” In the show contestants, frogseeking their 15 minutes of fame, engaged in a variety of challenges designed to show their ability to conquer their fears. Some of the challenges, like rock climbing, rope swings, and skydiving, put them in physical danger. Other challenges, such as eating worms, bugs, snakes, and other such disgusting things, challenged their ability to overcome gustatory cultural norms. These grossly disgusting exhibitions provide some secrets for how we can meet some of life’s challenges more successfully.

I recently came across a book on goal setting called, “Eat that Frog: Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time,” written by efficiency expert Brian Tracy. The book contains the typical, yet sound, advice for setting and attaining goals. There is, however, one difference in Tracy’s theories: we should start with the biggest and most difficult task first and continue on from there. His idea is that once the most difficult task has been accomplished, then the rest becomes a downhill, easier process. Tracy stresses that the most important thing is to start, and start immediately.

Tracy’s second rule is, “If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” He suggests that we all develop a lifelong habit of tackling the day’s most difficult task first thing in the morning. By doing so the day has momentum, and already gets categorized in your mind as being a success. The book is available on Amazon, and if you are too lazy, (efficient?), to read the entire book, you can obtain a synopsis of the book online. It’s a good read, with a lot of practical advice. His first two rules are gems, and worth remembering and living by.

America’s first self-help author, Napoleon Hill, had another quote worth living by. Hill stated that, “There is one quality that one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants and a burning desire to achieve it.” Once you find what that purpose is, I’m sure you’ll notice that your goal has a few ugly frogs sitting in front of it, guarding it and keeping you from reaching it. Tracy’s advice? Pick the uglier frog and eat that first, preferably first thing in the morning. This builds momentum, empowerment, and confidence, because as the day goes on the frogs get better looking and more digestible.

fearA few years ago, I read a autobiography of renowned boxing trainer, Teddy Atlas. Atlas was the trainer and mentor for a number of the best fighters and champions of the 1980s and 90s such as Mike Tyson, Michael Moorer, and Barry McGuigan. While Atlas certainly had technical advice to give his fighters, his strongest suit was his ability to motivate and inspire these athletes to conquer their fears. His theory of how to deal with fear was very similar to Brian Tracy’s- do what you are most afraid of first, get it out of the way, and it’s over. The fear may not be gone entirely, but it is now under your control. He would tell his fighters that carrying fear was much like the Chinese water torture of the mind. Fear would drip, drip, drip, and eventually destroy you. Atlas would tell his fighters to take on the fear by doing the very thing that they were most fearful of. Doing it sooner, rather than later, would put the biggest challenge behind you. Atlas, although no psychologist, certainly understood the nature of fear and doubt, and the paralyzing way that it can impact human performance.

If you used to watch “Fear Factor” on TV, then you probably remember that those that were more wormsuccessful at eating the disgusting things that were part of the challenges were those that simply dug in, shoved the stuff into their mouth, and swallowed it quickly. Some even smiled from ear to ear after doing so. No thought, no contemplation, a “just do, grasshopper,” attitude and it was over. Those who failed were those who overthought the process, allowing their disgust to build, and usually vomited right after they started to dig in. They then got ridiculed by Joe Rogan, and their 15 minutes of fame were over.

Next time you are planning a project, or taking on a challenging task at work or in your life ask yourself, “Where are the frogs here?” Decide which is the ugliest and eat it first, regardless of where it seems to fit in the project’s, grand scheme. Once it’s eaten, things can only get easier.

“Do or not do… there is no try.”-Yoda

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