are you sitting still as the water gets hotter?

02/15/2012

by anne lueneburger

I’m referring to the proverbial frog that, placed in a pot of boiling hot water, immediately jumps out to save himself. If placed in cold water that is gradually heated, however, the frog never realizes the danger it’s in and is boiled alive. [Note: we know from contemporary science that real frogs will, in fact, jump out of the pot after some time – but never mind that for now!] The hypothetical boiled frog is a useful metaphor for a very real problem: the difficulty of becoming aware of, and responding to, stress as it slowly creeps up on us a bit at a time.

Stress build-up is what many of us experience as we build our professional lives. When we’re stressed, a hormone called epinephrine (or adrenaline) makes our pulse beat faster and makes our blood pressure rise. As a result, our body quickly moves blood and nutrients (aka energy) to the places that need them the most. Just think of working on a complex client request with a tight deadline – your brain is like a sponge and sucks up loads of energy. This isn’t in itself a problem, but if we don’t find ways to ‘decompress’, then our stress levels will continue to rise. By the time we realize this, it can be too late. Constant stress can take the joy out of our lives and can make us sick – it can even kill us.

Now let’s give our frog story a bit of twist: what if the frog in the pot is more in tune with his environment and how it is affecting his well being and his chances of survival? What if he notices, and starts analyzing, the rising temperature and what this means for his future? The chances are that he’ll jump out in time.

So, what can you do to be this frog, who is strong on self-awareness and conviction, and who perceived the important changes in his environment?  Check out these two videos for starters…

Video Part 1:

Video Part 2:

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