boiled frogs

This is an ominous title:

Is the Life You’re Living Worth the Price You’re Paying to Live It?

Well crap, I hope so. But what does that even mean?

Here’s an excerpt from the article by Tony Schwartz:

What toll does it take, over time, if you get too little sleep; skip breakfast or settle for something unhealthy; struggle with a relentlessly challenging commute; attend meeting after meeting with no breaks in between; pump yourself up through the day with multiple cups of coffee or sugary snacks; deal with hundreds of emails that accumulate in your inbox; remain at your desk for lunch if you eat lunch at all; push through fatigue in the afternoon; head home at night feeling exhausted, but continue to check email through the evening; work on the weekends; and limit your vacations to no more than a week or two, if you vacation at all?

Ok, I’m depressed, but intrigued. Go on…

Consider the story of the boiling frog. It may or may not be true, but the point it makes certainly is. Toss a frog into a pot of boiling water and it instinctively jumps out, self-protectively. Next, place the frog into a pot of cool water. Not surprisingly, it swims around, happily. Now heat the water up very gradually and what does the frog do? It acclimates to untenable circumstances — and slowly cooks. The frog doesn’t notice what’s happening to him, until it’s too late.

We’re experiencing the same phenomenon. Facing ever more demand, complexity and uncertainty, our initial response is to push ourselves harder and more relentlessly, without taking account of the costs we’re incurring.
Ok now I’m just disturbed thinking about the fact that people eat frogs. And that we boil our food alive? Not cool.

But aside from the intense intro to this article, it makes so darn valid points. And it made me wonder, at what point do we start feeling like this lifestyle was normal? It certainly wasn’t an overnight switch, but I can’t remember life before cubicle walls. (And I love my job – what is it like when you don’t even like what you do? My guess is you feel a bit like a boiled frog.)

If I had the words of wisdom to alleviate this problem, I’d probably be famous. But I don’t, so I’ll just let it serve as a friendly reminder that life is unpredictable and very few projects are worth being boiled over.

Schwartz concludes that:

At the emotional level, our core need is to feel safe, secure and valued. The most reliable way to ensure that happens is to move flexibly between valuing, appreciating and taking care of others — which builds trust and appreciation — and taking care of ourselves. One without the other is insufficient. We need to regularly refuel ourselves with positive emotions just as much as we need to renew ourselves physically.

The more attentive we are to meeting these core needs, the less likely we are to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, and the more sustainably high-performing we’re capable of becoming.

And I agree. But I’m willing to bet he’s skipped breakfast and lunch on more than one occasion.

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One thought on “boiled frogs

  1. This reminds me of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” where he talks about the importance of sustaining a balance in the four quadrants of your life:

    your professional quadrant
    your family quadrant
    your spiritual quadrant and
    your personal quadrant

    Covey postulates that people who spend too much time in any one quadrant – its almost always the professional quadrant – create a disequilibrium – and reduce their ability to derive pleasure and satisfaction from any/all of the remaining quadrants.

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