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Eating Frogs

Oftentimes, we put off unpleasant tasks because, well, they are unpleasant. But 2019 is our year to get the house in order.

Eating Frogs

How to Turn Procrastination into Productivity

By Fran Carville, CRM, Carco Awards/CarcoAwards.com

"The key to happiness, satisfaction, great success, and a wonderful feeling of power and effectiveness is for you to develop the habit of eating your frog the first thing every day when you start work."—Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog!

The diminutive green tree frog is the official amphibian of Louisiana. They live in the swamps and bayous in south Louisiana and occasionally, one will find its way to the sugar kettle in my front yard. Ugh. I hate those frogs. They are slimy, gross little creatures and it makes me angry that something so small can frighten me. Did I already say ugh?

Having declared my extreme dislike for these creatures, you can imagine my reaction the first time I spotted the book Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy on a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble. I gave a wide berth to the green paperback book with a picture of a frog right on the front cover. And then, as the shock wore off, I circled back to figure out why a book about a frog would be front and center in the business section of the store. Well, I did find out, and I left the store that day with a new “frog” book. And that little book with 129 pages is one of the best purchases I have ever made.

You see, Eat That Frog! is about procrastination and ways to stop being caught in the trap of putting unpleasant, but important, things off. As 2018 comes to a close, most of us will be shaking our heads over the important things that we did not get done. But we know that we must eat our frogs eventually, so let’s stop putting off the important things in our businesses and our lives.

"Do not wait; the time will never be just right."—Brian Tracy

Oftentimes, we put off unpleasant tasks because, well, they are unpleasant. But 2019 is our year to get the house in order. Every adult, no matter your age, should have a financial folder with current information about bank accounts, 401Ks, annuities, pension documents, tax returns, brokerage account information, property deeds, vehicle titles, and financial power of attorney documents.

Every adult should have a medical folder with an advance healthcare directive, a medical power of attorney, a living will, insurance cards and policies, a personal medical history, and your physician’s information.

And every adult should have an essential documents folder with a birth certificate, marriage license, military records, life insurance policies, a copy of your current driver’s license, social security information, a list of online user names and passwords, safety deposit box information and duplicate keys, and your will. Is death a morbid subject that no one wants to tackle? Yes, sir, and yes, ma’am. But according to a Gallup poll, only 44% of Americans have a will. Why? My guess is because none of us wants to admit we are going anywhere. So, we procrastinate on what we know is so important to our families and our business associates. But now it’s time to eat that frog!

"The first rule of frog eating is this: if you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first."—Brian Tracy

So, what is your ugliest frog? Mine used to be taking corrective action with underperforming employees, but after being forced to eat this frog repeatedly, I overcame it. Now my ugliest frog is dealing with insurance. I used to assume that my insurance policies were exactly what was needed; after all, my agent knew me. I allowed it to be his responsibility to know my policies, rather than eating the frog and educating myself. In my case, learning to ask questions and being able to quote my policies was helpful when it came time to file a claim. Why is that important? After the last bad hurricane swept through my area, most business owners and home owners were unaware that their insurance policies had a “named storm” deductible. Many people also were caught unaware that their homeowners and business insurance did not cover flood damage. I was in a similar boat when I had the unpleasant realization that my insurance did not cover full roof replacement just because a tree was in one-half of it. Shame on me; I had not done my due diligence. Get out your policies and review them in detail with an expert. Know what you need and make sure that you have it. Determine what your ugliest frog is and eat that frog!

"The hardest part of any important task is getting started."—Brian Tracy

Years ago, I listened to a speaker at a trade show tell his audience that they should get their businesses ready to sell as quickly as possible. I left the presentation thinking the speaker was completely clueless and that he did not know me or my business, so who was he to tell me to sell it? I was still new to the industry and was nowhere close to being ready to sell. Yeah, that speaker was crazy…or was he?

A few weeks later, the light bulb came on and I realized this speaker was not advocating for anyone to return home and put their businesses up for sale. Nope. He was telling us to get our businesses organized and updated—to get our businesses running more effectively and efficiently—so that it would be a company that people would want to purchase.

As the years go by, we tend to let things slide, especially the unpleasant things. But the time has come for all of us to take a new look at our businesses to see if they are “ready to sell.”

  • Business plan—When is the last time you reviewed and revised your business plan? Is it still a good road map for your business?
  • Budget—Do you have your 2019 budget prepared? Will you use it as a guide to keep your business profitable?
  • Policies and procedures—Do you have written policies and an employee handbook? Do you have both initial orientation and ongoing training in place?
  • Marketing plan—Do you have an up-to-date marketing plan and promotions calendar that you actually use? Do you monitor the results of your efforts?
  • Website—Is your virtual store easy for consumers to find and use? Does it include up-to-date pricing and products? Can consumers order from your website?
  • Social media—Are you active on social media? Do you update your accounts on a regular basis?
  • Showroom—Is your showroom updated and pleasant to shop in? Is your pricing easy for consumers to see?
  • Production/stock areas—Are your back areas organized and easy for you and your employees to navigate?
  • An awards store that is “ready to sell” is a store that works for you, your staff, and your customers. Eat that frog!

"You have heard the old question, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer is, ‘One bite at a time!’"—Brian Tracy

By now, I am guessing you are thinking, “There’s too many frogs to eat and now you want to talk about eating an elephant? Are you kidding?” Already there are tons of documents to locate or create and organize, policies to review, and a store to get “sale ready”—and that does not begin to include all of the other frogs each of us have that must be eaten. So many frogs, so little time—maybe those tiny frogs have morphed into something larger? What is a busy retailer to do?

  1. Pick your most important frog and commit to getting it done, bite by bite.
  2. Make a simple plan. Break it into small steps and work on it every single day. The “one bite at a time” analogy really does work.
  3. Assess your progress on a regular basis. Getting the frog eaten? Reward yourself! Stalled on moving forward? No excuses—just keep putting one step in front of the other. It does not matter how small the progress is as long as real progress is being made.
  4. When your frog is eaten, choose another one and start chipping away on it. There will always be frogs that must be eaten, but you can do it! No matter how distasteful, you CAN eat your frogs!

Fran Carville, CRM, is an Awards and Personalization Association past president, educational speaker, 2008 Speaker of the Year, a member of the Hall of Fame, and winner of an Award of Excellence from the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Fran and her husband, Tom Carville, CRM, own Carco Awards in Baton Rouge, LA.

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