Drop a frog in boiling water, and it will jump right back out. No questions asked, it’s not wasting time, it’s getting the hell out of there. Drop it in a pot of cool water and slowly increase the temperature, and we have a different story on our hands. As the waters temperature increases from cool to lukewarm to hot, the frog is enjoying the hot tub like setting. It’s comfortable. It’s cozy. Why would it want to leave? Then, before you know it, the frog has overstayed it’s welcome. The temperature has increased to an uncomfortable level, but it can’t move. The warmth and comfort of the water are paralyzing. The water is starting to boil over and the frog is stuck there, trapped by their own sense of comfort.
I read this metaphor in a book and I immediately saw myself in the boiling frog. My life has always been comfortable, and I’ve never seen a need to create any changes that would take time and effort. I’m incredibly grateful for not having to deal with too much stress and strife in life. To quote Farrah Gray, though, “Comfort is the enemy of achievement.” Like the frog, I was content with just sitting back and not making a splash. In realizing the frog’s unfortunate fate, I found myself asking a lot of questions.
Am I waiting around for something bad to happen?
Is there an opportunity for change and redirection out there that I’m ignoring because I’m too comfortable where I am?
Will my comfort zone be my demise?
If there are things that I can change and improve, what are they?
Naturally, these questions sent me down a rabbit hole of discovery and curiosity that I’m still happily working my way through. First came the books, then the podcasts, then the documentaries. I was grabbing any content I could hold onto that could teach me how to grow and benefit from challenging the edges of my comfort zone. Finding anything that could keep me from the fate of the boiling frog was my aim. I was, and still am, never going to let what makes me comfortable blind me from much-needed opportunities for change.
Now that I’m knee-deep in it and can confidently look back and say I’ve made some substantial growth, I wanted to share what people, concepts, books and podcasts have been a fixture in my journey. Each Friday I will come to you with one piece of my ever growing puzzle and share my insights that I’ve learned from it.
For our second edition of Boiling Frog Friday…
Seth Godin’s incredible book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (Find his book here)
Godin’s book is a must-read for anyone making their way through life as an employee or an employer (i.e. pretty much everyone). Why is it so essential? It is because Godin describes the changing landscape of what work looks like. Through many stories and anecdotes, he makes it clear that the occupations that we have today don’t have the same set of rules as those that our parents had. For the longest time, American workers took pride in their loyalty to their company and how many years they put in. It was all about acquiring a job and riding into the sunset 30 years later with a pension and the respect of your fellow employee.
Your commitment to your company and its cause were valued over your talent and your work ethic. Of course, your talent and effort played a part in your employment, but your ability to fill a role within an organization was more significant. You were a cog in a machine. A plug for a leaky ship. If you left your company, they would look for someone who could follow orders and fill your void.
Today’s careers are essentially cogless and without the assembly line structure of those in the past. What Godin is pushing for in his book is how to stand out amongst the many people working with the same mindset as their parents. Most people are still trying to ride out their occupation until they retire (because, hey, that’s what their parents did). But you should do more. You should try to be indispensable.
How? Giving more unconditionally. Doing more than your job title. Providing extreme value to the people you work for. If you can do tasks that no one in your line of work can, chances are you have a better chance of surviving the next round of layoffs. Find your niche within your company that you can be the go-to person for. Be the social media consultant or the guy that knows how to use Google docs and sheets the best. If you can pinpoint the need that your company has, embrace it and find a way to provide value towards that need.
He also spends some time discussing a concept that is essential to becoming indispensable-defeating The Resistance. The Resistance, as Godin refers to it, is the voice in your head that says that “you can’t do it”. It’s that whisper between your ears that talks you down before you take a leap of faith. He spends an entire chapter focusing on leaning into this fear and using it as a signal for how to conduct yourself.
“If something scares you, it might be a good thing to try.”
This quote of his sums up what to do with The Resistance. It’s always going to be there telling you that you aren’t ready for this or that you aren’t capable of that. The best thing you can do is attack it head on. Know that your feeling of insecurity is a sign to boldly try something. You’ll learn more in one battle with The Resistance than you would from any other source of education.
I found The Resistance chapter to be the most valuable of the entire book. If you are not a big reader and don’t want to dive into every last word of Godin’s book, I suggest finding a way to get your hands on that chapter at the very least. It will change your outlook on how you conduct yourself, both at work and outside of it.
After reading Linchpin, I learned to be much more intentional in my work. I believe that Godin’s insight is invaluable and will change your perspective of how you’ll manage the rest of your working life.
It’s worth every word; an indispensable book in it’s own right.
Until next time,