What Do Frogs Have To Do with Leadership & Goals?

“Once upon a time, two frogs were sitting on a log in the middle of a lake, and one frog decided to jump off, how many frogs were left sitting on the log?”

Answer: Two frogs.

Why? The same reason only 3% of the population set and actually achieve their goals or maintain positive, well-intentioned change in the first place. The frog missed three critical steps of Achieving his Goal: Ask, Announce, Act (and Ask again).

The frog understood WHY it was a good idea to jump off, because he was an intelligent, high achieving, upwardly mobile frog.  He understood there were more opportunities and freedom if he left the comfort of the log.  While the frog understood why, and although he did decide … he didn’t take action.

What about accountability and following up? Perhaps if the first frog told the second frog he was going to jump off, he would have followed through on his promise and lived happily ever after. Does this story sound familiar? Whoops, wrong story. That’s enough about frogs …Now let’s make the story relevant.

Leaders:  Which skills are more critical to your success strategic skills or soft skills?

“Almost 50% of newly hired or newly promoted leaders quit or get fired before their 18 month anniversary …”  (Hint: The majority of failure is not a result of lack of business savvy or technical skills, but a lack of interpersonal or communication skills.)

… and another statistic:

“The divorce rate in the US is around 50% …” As a marriage counselor for 14 years, I will also bet the reason is the same … lack of effective communication skills by one or both people.

Question: Which is easier for you to achieve: your company’s strategic goals or your soft skills or interpersonal goals? “What are ‘personal development goals’ and why would I, Mr. or Ms. Super Successful CEO need them?” you ask?

Because you don’t want to be a statistic.

By lack of interpersonal or soft skills I mean the inability to manage your emotions. You, who growl and snap when your assistant forgets an important detail about a meeting. You, the exhausted Senior VP who feels like you start your day in a 5K jog and feel like you’ve run a marathon by the time 8 pm rolls around. You, the up and coming leader who promised your son you’d get home in time to see him play baseball and you missed it again. Yes, you, the human part of the executive equation.

What difference will it make when you have mastered the higher level communication and relationship skills that prevent these conflicts? You understand why personal skill development is important, may have decided to make a change, but are you ready to take action and jump off of the log?

What if you had a simple, 3 step strategy to make lasting, positive changes in your actions, your communication style or your interpersonal skills as easily as you develop and achieve your strategic company objectives for 2012? I said it was simple, I didn’t say it would be easy …

AAA: The Triple Threat Solution … 3 Simple Steps: Ask, Announce & Act (Repeat)

Step #1: Ask. Ask others what they see you can improve upon. After all, perception is reality and their perception of how you communicate rather than your perception of how you communicate matters most.

Step #2: Announce. Tell people what you are working on. This not only holds you more accountable for change, it also subconsciously invites people to look for and more likely notice the positive change you will be making.

Step #3: Act. Just do it. Look for opportunities to interrupt an old pattern. Try taking a few deep breaths next time you feel tense going into a meeting (holding our breath triggers Lizard Brain). Instead of saying “No” immediately to an idea proposed in a project meeting, take a moment and respond “Interesting, let’s consider that idea.”

Then, repeat #1: Ask. Remind others of what you are working on and then check in and ask “How am I doing?” Where are you inviting them to focus? Right. On what you are changing, because otherwise, people may not notice, allowing the negative things you say or do to stand out more automatically.

So, what are your waiting for? Jump!


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About the Author Christina

Christina Haxton is the Chief Potential Officer & Founder of The Center for Sustainable Strategies, a business strategy & executive advisory company, assisting technology and life science entrepreneurs, business owners & CEOs to build a strong, purpose-driven company, achieve sustainable growth & avoid burnout. Contact Christina at (970) 387-8935 or christina@sustainable-leaders.com to inquire about speaking, training, coaching and consulting solutions for yourself or your company.

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Leave a Comment:

Katt Franklin says January 1, 2012

Great article! It is difficult to make a decision especially when it is against the group think.

nachum katz says January 1, 2012

Thank you for this post.
Interesting and helpful.

Sean Dineen says January 4, 2012

Samantha –

I agree, great article, thanks for sharing! It is a perfect time of the year for this insight as we reflect on the past years accomplishments and failures and look towards what we wnat to ACT upon this year. Great insights to keep in mind as we begin 2012!

Vicki Watson says January 4, 2012

This is so exquite! I love the simple truths, and with my personal affection for frogs, this tale and its meaning are wonderful!

What an inspiration for my entrepreneurship college students!

Joseph David Thomas says January 6, 2012

Love the way you framed this article. Very well done. Bravo!

Paul Mathews says January 31, 2012

Change is rarely easy, Christina, as you pointed out, but your three step and repeat framework looks promising. There are a number of abrasive interpersonal habits that I have that need to change, particularly at home. I’ll implement and begin to practice your plan immediately. Perhaps in time my family will stop running away from me when I come home.

    Christina says January 31, 2012

    Congratulations on your commitment to take action! Change doesn’t have to be “hard” … it’s the “change” part that our brains naturally resist. Our brain is a “pattern machine” and simply makes connections (and often mis-connects unrelated information) in an effort to make sense and organize all 40 million pieces of information we absorb on a daily basis. We love certainty … there is comfort in what’s predictable. So, don’t be surprised if your positive change is not noticed OR if you get some “resistance” from your family. Even good change is change, and people naturally resist. Stay consistent with your actions. They may need a hint or two to focus on what’s different or better … (Step #3), instead of what they expect. Please post or email me privately … your aha!s and results. Let me know if I can assist in any way.

Jon R. Herbold says February 28, 2012

Don’t you just hate it when someone makes the resolution to your problems so easy to understand and implement!! Great article jon

Leadership takes more than awareness: It takes courage and action | Leadership development, speaking & coaching for Sustainable Leaders says April 9, 2012

[…] change, but because of failure to follow Steps #2 and #3 of the change process. (Click here to read Step #1 and #2 and #3 in the previous post on Leadership, Frogs & […]

Scott Mabry says April 29, 2012

Great steps!! Especially enjoy the line about interrupting old patterns. So important to remember to do this.

    Christina says April 30, 2012

    Thank you for highlighting … we must “scratch the record” (remember those?) so we don’t keep playing the same song AND create new grooves, or responses to stressful situations.

Laura Camacho, PhD says July 3, 2012

Great points! I got a new understanding of the importance of perception recently while working on a training project at a large hospital. A physician treating a patient perceives that the treatment is positive as the patient improves. However, a patient who is healing in a hospital, but feels that the personnel are rude, or if the coffee is cold, perceives the same treatment as poor, even if she reaches full recovery. Seeing how others perceive you requires vulnerability! Thanks, Laura

    Christina says July 4, 2012

    Well said, Laura! And vulnerability can result in trust … although unfortunately many leaders believe it results in being perceived as weak. I suppose it depends on who’s doing the “perceiving!” If your employees or customers perceive vulnerability and feel more trust in the leader as a result, that’s positive. However, if your enemies or competitors perceive vulnerability, where does that get you (or does it matter?)?

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