When dealing with people I always feel it’s important to make things practical and memorable. One of my absolute favourite sayings is “Eat your frog”. One of my long-term clients still remembers the first time that I used this phrase to illustrate a concept to her. It is quite memorable advice, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the frogs that business owners face.
Eat your frogs for breakfast
Mark Twain is quoted as suggesting "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning.”
He wasn’t literally suggesting that you eat frogs for breakfast, but rather that your frogs are the things on your to-do list that you categorically want to avoid, and therefore delay doing for as long as you can.
He goes on to recommend “And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first."
Which means that if you have two frog tasks, start with the one that you're the least excited to do.
So many of us suffer from procrastination issues in business and our daily lives. We end up operating at the wrong levels, unable to delegate, or just being inefficient.
The following is my 4-step plan to conquering the avoidable things that are delaying tasks in your life.
- Have a daily to-do list;
- Set priorities to each task item and link them to deadlines;
- Delegate tasks that can or should be done by someone else;
- Celebrate the small wins. We often miss the small achievements. Remember the magnitude of progress is not what matters. What matters is that you are moving forward.
This may sound like a rather simple 4-step plan but remember the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This strategy should only take 5 minutes of your day, but you will start to see positive results almost immediately.
Don’t become a frog in boiling water
The boiling frog metaphor warns that a frog which is placed in a pot of water that is slowly being brought to boil won’t realise the danger and will be boiled to death. While this frightening fable is not scientifically true, it does illustrate the danger of situational inattentiveness.
Many people die this slow death in business. How often do you hear stories that go something along these lines…
We were moving along at a nice speed, things were working work well, and then one day we woke up and we just knew that something was wrong. We weren’t getting new customers, we were losing customers that we’d had for years, and our business growth had completely stagnated.
This didn’t happen overnight. Why didn’t they see it coming? How did they land up in such hot water?
How can you avoid the slow death of your company?
- Don’t be scared of change – It’s bound to happen in business and the sooner you adapt the better. Try not to fight the change, rather learn to embrace it. You never know, you might discover a better way of doing things, or reach a new generation of clientele by embracing the change.
- Get outside advice – You may not recognise the issues within your own business because you are too close to it. Get expert and honest external advice. An objective extra pair of eyes and ears might be all you that need to help you to see the bigger picture.
- Have a plan – Decide what you want to achieve and then set long and short-term goals to improve your situation.
- Use technology to your advantage – With today’s rapid technology advancements you must become innovative and creative in how you operate your business if you want to stay ahead of your competition. Automation, comfort, and accessibility are major lures for customers.
Grow a permeable skin
Frogs don't often drink with their mouths, instead they absorb water through their skin. As a leader, it’s important to ask yourself - do you have a permeable skin or a “thin skin”?
Do you allow for constructive criticism, or are you easily offended? It is important to realise that as a leader you will be criticised. Rather than becoming sensitive to the slights, be open to the insights. Hear what the people in your organisation are saying, learn to sift through the noise, and use the genuine insights to your advantage.
Do you want to control everything, or are you willing to trust your employees? You can’t be everywhere all the time without letting something slip. As a leader it is important to teach your employees and the best way to do that is to delegate tasks. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, allow the people on your team to grow.
Learn to jump fast and far
Many frogs can leap 20 times their length. While you may not be able to achieve this in the literal sense, you can achieve this in your business goals. For you to attain your financial or sales goals you need to ensure that you’re putting the right amount of effort into the correct tasks.
Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that success is not realised overnight, but instead stems from the ability to see an opportunity, the willingness to act on that opportunity, and the focus to keep nurturing the opportunity.
If you want your business to go further and faster, you need to start by “eating your frogs”. Don’t be afraid to take the leap, dream bigger and keep trying until you either succeed or need to change course.
Next time you see a frog, remember that these strange little creatures can teach us a lot about business.
Now, go eat your frogs and don’t forget that you might need to kiss a few frogs in business to get to your throne.
If you enjoyed this article, you may find Our Easy Guide On How To Successfully Manage Tasks useful.
About Our Guest Writer
Christie is a business mentor. She specialises in helping organisations to understand how process optimisation, risk management and strong governance can support their business growth and objectives. Follow @christie_heath on Twitter or connect with Christie on LinkedIn
“I believe business are like puzzles where process, people and systems have to fit together for the picture to make sense.” - Christie Heath