As I was cleaning out the year-end files, I ran across something my father sent me over 15 years ago. The message still rings true – new behaviors are hard to adopt.
So, if you have set your sights on making some changes in the coming year, recognize what patterns may fall into that make it easy for you to continue with the old behavior. Think about how you can break those patterns so that your new behaviors have a chance to take hold.
I hope you enjoy:
Felix the Flying Frog
A Parable about Schedules, Cycle Times and Shaping New Behaviors
Once upon a time, there lived a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named Felix. Clarence lived a modestly comfortable existence on what he earned working at the Wal-Mart, but he always dreamed of being rich. “Felix!” he said one day, hit by sudden inspiration, “We’re going to be rich! I’m going to teach you to fly!”
Clarence, disappointed at the initial response, told Felix: “That negative attitude of yours could be a real problem. We’re going to remain poor, and it will be your fault.”
So Felix and Clarence began their work on flying.
On the first day of the “flying lessons,” Clarence could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence explained that their apartment building had 15 floors, and each day Felix would jump out of a window, starting with the first floor and eventually getting to the top floor. After each jump, they would analyze how well he flew, isolate the most effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able to fly.
Felix pleaded for his life, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. “He just doesn’t understand how important this is,” thought Clarence. “He can’t see the big picture.”
So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out. He landed with a thud.
The next day, poised for his second flying lesson, Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window. Clarence told Felix about how one must always expect resistance when introducing new, innovative plans.
With that, he threw Felix out the window. THUD!
Now this is not to say that Felix wasn’t trying his best. On the fifth day, he flapped his legs madly in a vain attempt at flying. On the sixth day, he tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think “Superman” thoughts. It didn’t help.
By the seventh day, Felix, accepting his fate, no longer begged for mercy. He simply looked at Clarence and said, “You know you’re killing me, don’t you?”
Clarence pointed out that Felix’s performance so far had been less than exemplary, failing to meet any of the milestone goals he had set for him.
With that, Felix said quietly, “Shut up and open the window,” and he leaped out, taking careful aim at the large jagged rock by the corner of the building.
Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.
Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet a single objective that he had set out to accomplish. Felix had not only failed to fly, he hadn’t even learned to steer his fall as he dropped like a sack of cement, nor had he heeded Clarence’s advice to “Fall smarter, not harder.”
The only thing left for Clarence to do was to analyze the process and try to determine where it had gone wrong. After much thought, Clarence smiled and said…
“Next time, I’m getting a smarter frog!”