Sometimes, you just have to jump. Things come together to force you to do something. Sometimes, it is easier to just step up and do things. Sometimes…
Once upon a time, there was a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named Felix. Clarence lived a very modest life based on what he earned working retail but he never gave up his dream of being rich. One day, hit by sudden inspiration, he exclaimed, “Felix, we’re going to be rich! You will learn to fly!”
Felix was terrified at the prospect. “I can’t fly, Clarence! I’m a frog, not a bird!” Clarence, disappointed at the initial response, told Felix: “Your attitude isn’t helping matters. I think you can benefit from some training.”
So off Felix went to a three-day course where he learned about the history of aviation, the basics of aeronautical engineering (e.g., lift, thrust, drag, etc), gliders, parasailing and the lives of famous fliers. (For obvious reasons, the instructor did not mention Icarus, but they did talk about Why Geese fly in a V.)
After the training and on the first day of the “flying lessons,” Clarence could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence pointed out that their apartment building had 7 floors, and each day Felix would jump out of a window, starting with the first floor and working his way up to the top.
After each jump, Clarence and Felix 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.
So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out. He landed with a thud. They discussed and analyzed his performance…
The next day, poised for his second flying lesson, Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window. Clarence opened his pocket guide to “Managing More Effectively” and showed Felix the part about how one must always expect resistance when introducing new, innovative programs. With that, he threw Felix out the window again. THUD!
On the third day (on the third floor), Felix tried a different ploy: stalling. He asked for a delay in the “project” until better weather would make flying conditions more favorable. But Clarence was ready for him: He produced a timeline and pointed to the third milestone and asked, “You don’t want to mess up the schedule, do you?”
From his performance appraisal feedback, Felix knew that not jumping today meant he would have to jump TWICE tomorrow. So he just muttered, “OK, let’s go.” And out the window he went.
Now this is not to say that Felix wasn’t trying his best. On the fourth day he flapped his legs madly in a vain attempt at flying. On the fifth day, he tried “visualization.” He tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think “Superman” thoughts. It didn’t help.
By the sixth 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 milestones he had set for him. With that, and knowing that there was one more floor, Felix said quietly, “Shut up and open the window.” He leaped out, taking careful aim at the large jagged rock by the corner of the building.
And Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.
Clarence was devastated. His project failed to meet a single objective he set out to accomplish. Felix not only failed to fly, he hadn’t even learned to steer his fall; instead, he dropped like a sack of cement. Nor had Felix heeded Clarence’s advice to “Fall smarter, not harder.”
The only thing left for Clarence to do was to conduct an after-action-review and try to determine where things had gone wrong. After reviewing the records and giving the data much thought, Clarence smiled knowingly and said, “Next time, I’m getting a smarter frog!”
Maybe you can use this thought and tell the story to people who need to hear it!
Scott Simmerman Ph.D. CPF, CPT is still managing partner of PMC, but sort of retired…
Scott is developer of the Square Wheels® images and the board game version of The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine
Scott has presented his concepts in 47 countries and collaborates with consultants and trainers worldwide.
Also published on Medium.