Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Slow Boil

Ever hear the story about the frog and the boiling water? The science is that if you drop a frog in boiling water, it will hop right out. But if you place a frog in water and slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death without realizing it.

Now I am not advocating the slow boil of frogs or any creature for that matter. My point is that gradual changes can take their toll, and as creators, we have to protect our energy and optimism if we want to be free to create. We have to recognize the changes so we can jump out of the water before it's too late.

Here are some areas where the heat might be increasing:

Too much negativity--Are you surrounded by family, co-workers, or friends who are constantly negative about things? If you find that you are leaving conversations feeling that your outlook is more negative and despairing, examine some of your relationships and see if you're exposing yourself to too much negative light. Relationships are wonderful and friends sometimes need counsel, but if it's a constant barrage, then measures should be taken to limit the exposure.

Energy Leeching--Are you the ear? The counselor? The go-to person for all problems? It's great to be the one others trust to help them resolve their issues, but make sure that you're not consistently leaving conversations exhausted mentally or emotionally. Just because the issues aren't yours does not mean that you aren't expending energy in trying to help someone resolve them. Sometimes friends are in dear need, sure, but if it's a constant siege of need, then it might be wise to examine how much you're helping and whether professional counseling might be better for that friend.

Time-slipping--In this age of constant exposure to social media, email, instant chats, Words with Friends, television, and other distractions, it's easy to lose an hour or two just "catching up" on things. As with relationships, these distractions aren't bad unto themselves; they become toxic when time starts to slip away and we find ourselves regretting the things we didn't do yesterday because there "wasn't enough time."

Now there are other ways in which the temperature can increase for us, but these three areas are based on my personal experience. A dear friend and wonderful husband helped pull me out of the water on more than one occasion. I kept jumping back in because I wanted to "help" or because I thought I was capable of "multi-tasking" but all too often I wasn't helping, I was enabling. I was deluding myself into thinking I could handle things. Cutting down on my exposure to these threats has led to a surge in my creative energy and a renewed focus on healthy boundaries with friends and family.

We are all creators, inventors, or leaders of some capacity. Even when we aren't currently working on a project, it's important to recognize if there are drains on our energy that are preventing us from pursuing new professional or personal goals. As Stephen Covey so aptly said, we have to take care of the golden goose if we want it to lay the golden eggs. Is your golden goose healthy?

Photo courtesy of DougDelaney.


  1. Very excellent. Well written. Great advice to live by!

  2. Thank you, Marcus! Are there areas in your life where the temperature has gradually been turned up?

  3. My job is the ONLY area, and certainly am looking to rid my life of that

    And time slipping, not so much. I set aside 3 hours per afternoon to solely focus on writing (since I work super early and off at noon, I write after a sweet power nap).

  4. That is awesome. It sounds like you have prioritized your time so that you can focus on your writing. I have issues with work bleeding into my home life and I have to put up a solid defense against it. It took me a while to figure that out. Hopefully we both will have that day where we can say sayonara to the corporate job and focus full-time on our writing. ;)

    Thank you so much for the comment!

  5. I look forward to that day. Fondly. I can see it off in the horizon. Hopefully one day soon I can reach it. And I hope the same for you!!!!