Plug Your Nose and Dig In!

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

In the movie Bad Boys, two high-action cops are chasing the bad guy down a runway in Miami as Marcus (Martin Lawrence) begins reciting the perpetrator’s rights.  “You have the right to remain silent – anything you say can and will be used against you …” Will Smith asks, “What are you doing?” Marcus, staring straight ahead, replies, “Just gettin’ it out the way.”

When I was young, Mom desperately wanted to get us to eat healthy foods. The problem for kids is that healthy foods generally taste like crap. Especially Brussels sprouts. We’d make faces, Mom would make threats, and eventually we’d compromise – just eat one. I’d dip mine in mashed potatoes to mask the flavor (it didn’t work) and swallow it whole. Anything to get it over with.

Even now, when my wife puts broccoli or cauliflower on my plate, I eat it first. That way I can enjoy every bite of the good stuff without ruining the savory goodness in my mouth with the pungent aroma of steamed vegetables. It’s simple. If you have to do something really unpleasant, get it out of the way as quickly as possible.

Or, as French writer Nicolas Chamfort once said, eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. That quote (often attributed to Mark Twain) has been enhanced over the years to suggest that, if you have to eat a bunch of frogs, you should eat the biggest one first. Uurrrp!

But the point is pretty clear – if you have to eat the frog anyway, get it over with and then you don’t have to dread it the rest of the day. Now, before I completely ruin your appetite, this isn’t about eating frogs (or Brussels sprouts). It’s about getting the unpleasant stuff out of the way so we can look forward to the good stuff. You know, like ice cream.

There are things I have to do every day at work that I’d gladly pay somebody else to do. Nothing as bad as eating a live frog, but just those tedious tasks that nobody really enjoys, and you wonder if it’s even adding any value at all. But the boss says it has to be done, so I get it done. Now. The earlier the better. Then I don’t have to think about it again until tomorrow.

In my own company, it’s pretty much the same. I have to contact a certain number of people every day if I want my business to grow. And I know that four out of five will tell me they’re just not interested. It’s my least favorite part of the business. I’d rather get another vasectomy. But the frog is sitting there, getting bigger by the day until I finally dig in and take that first unpleasant bite.

And you know what? Even after all those people give me a polite (or not-so-polite) “No,” I’m still breathing. In fact, I’m breathing a little easier because the worst thing they could say to me is over. I don’t have to dread it anymore. And I know the odds are increasingly in my favor that the next person I talk to will say yes.

It’s all about the law of averages. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Apply for enough jobs, and sooner or later you’ll score an interview. Score enough interviews, and sooner or later you’ll get a job. Do your job long enough, and sooner or later you’ll get really good at it. Even the parts you never really wanted to be good at.

But when you get good at the stuff nobody wants to do, two things happen. First, you don’t mind it so much. It’s a part of your day that you work through quickly and with little conflict. And once that’s behind you, you’re able to spend the rest of the day getting better at the stuff the boss really notices.

Unless you clean toilets for a living, your job likely involves a multitude of daily tasks that are a mix of mildly enjoyable to completely intolerable. And if toilets are your thing, clean the worst ones first. It won’t make your day go any faster, but at least it won’t smell quite as bad.

Dessert is the reward we get for eating the frog. If you have to eat it all anyway, get the hard part done first and save the best for last. You’ll be happier, and the rest of the meal will taste that much better. And if you just happen to develop a taste for frog in the process … well, there’s not much anybody can do to mess up your day.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved