Mark Twain has a bit of advice for those mornings we wake up dreading what we’ve got to do today. “If you eat a live frog the first thing each morning, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day.” He may be right, but I would like to think there is a better way.
It’s a sad fact that we so readily inflict emotional pain upon ourselves. (By the way, I’m good at doing the same.) I’ve asked thousands of individuals throughout my career if they would shoot themselves in the feet tonight if they were going to run in a race tomorrow. Not one person said they would do such a thing, because it would hurt! Plus, it would be a terrible impediment to winning the race.
Consider what happens upon waking: It occurs to you that you must tell your supervisor today about a mistake you made; you’ve got to deal with an excavator who has the reputation of not being able to provide necessary specifics, or today is the day to make that telephone call that you’ve been postponing. The list of adversities that must be confronted is endless and real. The sad part is the degree to which such events cast a cloud of gloom and doom over your day.
Let me tell you a quick story about yours truly. When I was a young college professor, a local high school asked that I speak at their high school athletic banquet. While reluctantly agreeing to speak, I’m thinking that I’m a college professor, not a key note speaker. As the date approached, I hated the fact that I had agreed to be the speaker, as I didn’t have a clue as to what I should say. The day of the presentation, I became physically ill with flu-like symptoms. I called the contact person and explained my plight. Guess what. Miraculously, upon completing that telephone call, the symptoms disappeared.
The antidote to reverse the symptoms when confronted with the need to complete an unpleasant task is embedded in the truism you see what you expect to see. You are looking at the negative characteristics of the situation. Another truism is that our imagination makes mountains out of mole hills. The mountains escalate fear, worry, gloom, doom and despair. Now you don’t even want to get into your pickup to drive to work.
So let’s redirect your eyes to see the benefits you receive from interacting with the adversity. I’m asking you to consider the fact that today is a personal development class in the University of Life. In doing so, answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” You’ll have to answer the specifics to that question yourself and my guess is that the list of benefits will surprise you.
I can suggest a major benefit for you— it is an opportunity to practice exhibiting the courage to deal with perceived challenges so that such challenges lose their death grip on your emotions. There is another truism — your life will be full of challenging situations that you would prefer not to have to experience. Each of us is an accident waiting to happen and the little challenges give us practice for when that “BIG” one arrives. Dale Carnegie proposed an excellent strategy when facing adversity, “Decide what is the worst thing that could happen, accept that it might happen as it might, and then work your tail off to ensure that it doesn’t.”
In closing, the first rule of frog eating offers sage advice when adversities double up on us —“When you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.”