Why Would I Want to Eat a Frog?
Have you heard this expression? I hadn’t until last week’s management development session, when a trainee shared the pithy analogy of doing what seems most repugnant, to eat the frog looking up at you from your weighty to-do list. The original expression, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day”, is attributed to Mark Twain and the idea was later developed into a book about procrastination by best-selling author, Brian Tracy.
Procrastination strikes us all at some point in our management career, when we develop the habit off putting off the most pressing management challenges, by distracting ourselves with quick feel-good tasks, like responding lengthily to non-urgent emails, like typing up the action plan of the last team meeting, or even polishing your desk and computer screen. Ring any bells?
Eat That Frog!
Well then, let me explain how eating the frog can be your best friend. Start by acknowledging what’s stopping you from tackling this matter. It might be the painful memory of the last time you were in this situation, and you fear a repeat performance. Or it might be that you don’t believe you will do a good job of it, and fear exposing potential under-performance in the eyes of your seniors.
Whatever the reasons, it’s time to look into the face of fear, uncertainty and self-doubt, and acknowledge that this is the job you’ve chosen, that you’ve managed so far, and probably very well, and that you’re more than this unwelcome challenge. In minutes, if not a few hours, what you’ve been avoiding will be behind you, and you’ll be enjoying all the benefits of being an effective manager, taking a well-earned break and looking forward to parts of the job that you love, the reasons why you’re a manager, in the first place.
Just Eat It!
The next time you are faced with a difficult task, imagine you’re looking down at the slimy gnarled helpless frog. Close your eyes, imagine yourself as you pick it up gently, pop it in your mouth and swallow. Now open your eyes! You are ready to tackle that task and the reality of it will not be half as unpleasant as you have imagined. Indeed, you may even discover you have taste for frogs, reminding yourself of your excellent time-management, discipline and courage to be the best version of yourself.
Learning to eat the frog is one of many tools and skills practised on our Mindful Management Development programme. Trainees learn as much from each other, by sharing their management experiences, as they do from the communicative course material. They start the 12 month process by writing a letter to self, naming their learning goals and imagining what sort of a manager they would like to become. Trainees are encouraged to take charge of what they need to learn, building on strengths and achievements, and practicing applying the tools they have learned to new situations, having those difficult conversations, in an environment where you can make mistakes, without the fear of unpleasant consequences.
Learning to be the best manager you can be is like going on a journey of self-discovery. You will share the journey with other intrepid and diverse managers, supporting each other, enjoying learning from each other, and leaving the training room early afternoon, fired up and clear-sighted in how you’re going to put your new skills to good practice, when you get back to the office after lunch.