Sunday, 22 July 2007

Parable of the boiled frog

They say that if you throw a frog into a pot of hot water it will quickly jump out. But if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and slowly heat it up, the frog stays put - and cooks. By the time the frog realizes its predicament, it's too late. Poor Froggy will boils to death or can only be saved if only someone pull him out.

The same things are happening to us - in career, in relationship and on earth. This is human nature. The slow developing trend or threat are so difficult to grasp. By the time we realize, it may to too late to do anything. Or, it can be anything we do will not matter anymore.


The shifting of economy and the world gone flat have great impact on how organization can thrive in this new economy.

Boiling-frog syndrome stands as a warning to managers and team members not to ignore the signs of negative institutional inertia that portend eventual failure. For an improved work environment, it's important to first recognize signs of hot water and then turn down the heat.


In this article, it talks about how the boiled-frog parable apply to our job.

Sometimes the same thing happens to people in their jobs. If they had known on day one the job was going to be this bad, they'd have jumped out of the pot. But they've been in the job awhile, adjusting little by little as circumstances worsen.

"Then they go on vacation, come back to work, and it's like jumping into a pot of boiling water! They can suddenly hear the petty arguments, see the political situation for what it is, realize how little the work means to them. They can see how abusive their bosses are, feel how stressful the job is or perhaps feel how good it was to spend time with their significant other and children, and realize how much the job is stealing from that time," said Wilson.

As uncomfortable an experience as this is, those who have it are fortunate. This back-to-work clarity will force them to pay attention to their careers before it is too late. Many others in the same circumstances will put up with rising temperatures until they end up in a knock-down drag-out fight with their co-workers or bosses, develop migraines or have a family crisis. Or until they lose a promotion they thought they deserved, realize they feel most of the time like quitting or do lose their jobs. We even encounter the occasional soul who says he won't take vacations because it would be too horrible to come back.

Now and again an almost-boiled frog shows up at the door crying, "Fix it!" which, of course, is impossible. Careers cannot be treated in the emergency room. The solution is to manage your career, and not just sit there while the forces around you determine your course.


Going through her breakup made my friend realized how she had taken more than she gave. She thought her reservation of love would have make her less vulnerable. But she told me she never thought she would hurt as badly.

She told me again and again that she is those type of person who will not easily trust or care for a person. It made me feel a bit angry because I heard this a lot of times from other people as well. This is absolutely an excuse to avoid responsibilities and commitments. Do you think the people on the other side of the giving end are not feeling unsecured also? Do you think they are not afraid of being hurt or rejected? That they born as silly love fools? It takes a lot of courages for one to be in love and those who give are the courageous one. Do not give the excuse to be a coward.

My friend had taken things for granted. She was the frog in the slowly steaming water. Suddenly she realized the heat. She had been oblivious to burdens of the people around her. She had not been able to understand while she continued to demand attention and care.

But she understand now. She is going to go a very "long distance" this time to save her relationship. I hope she will succeed.


The boiled frog may be all of us on earth who choose not to do anything about the unavoidable threat of global warming. I first learned about the boiled frog story from the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth". I heard about global warming and thinning of ozone layer for more than 10 years while studying science in high school. Until now, I have not see any major changes to address this issue.

So, we are the frog in the water heating up, unaware and happily living our life.

When will we notice the heat? Will we ever get to jump out before it is too hot or will we boil to death?

Maybe we all can do something now starting from ourselves first. Each one counts!

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Anonymous said...
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autumnmusic said...

"She told me again and again that she is those type of person who will not easily trust or care for a person. It made me feel a bit angry because I heard this a lot of times from other people as well. This is absolutely an excuse to avoid responsibilities and commitments."

tis rings a lot of bells, haha :P

i feel like the boiling frog every now and then...

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