Two weeks ago I presented at a workshop and during the discussion one of the topics discussed is how comments from people around us can have a negative impact on us. It has happened to me before even when I previously tried to diet – people told me I would never manage and there was a time when I believed them. The discussion on Saturday reminded me of the tiny frog story.
Have you heard of the story of the tiny frog before? Here it goes:
Once upon a time, there was a group of tiny frogs who arranged a competition. The goal was to reach the top of a tower. A huge crowd of frogs gathered to watch the race and cheer on the contestants.
The race began.
Not one frog in the audience believed that the contestants would reach to the top. After all, it was a HUGE tower! The crowd grew and many yelled,
- “Oh, that is WAY too difficult!!’
- “They will NEVER make it to the top.”
- “Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!”
One by one, the tiny frogs collapsed and fell off the tower. Still, there was a group of determined frogs that climbed higher and higher. But the crowd continued to yell,
“It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!”
Discouraged and convinced by the negative cries, more of these tiny frogs collapsed and fell off the tower. Many frogs who were still climbing complained of the pain and eventually gave up. Some frogs, tired and battered, heard their peers’ complaints and subsequently threw in the towel too.
In the midst of this, ONE tiny frog persisted. He climbed. And he climbed. And he climbed. This tiny frog seemed to have super-frog strength that allowed him to push forward in spite of others failing. Why, though? Why is he able to climb so far when others are failing?? the crowd wondered.
By now, all the tiny frogs had either collapsed or given up — except for that one tiny frog. The crowd continued to yell, now at the tiny frog:
- “This is too difficult!!’
- “You will NEVER make it to the top!!”
- “You better give up now while you can!!!”
But for some reason, that tiny frog climbed further, seemingly undaunted, unaffected. Finally, he reached the top of the hill. He had reached his destination!!!
All the tiny frogs were amazed as to how this one frog was able to make it to the top. They crowded around him, wanting to know his secret.
As it turned out, he was deaf.
What is the moral of the story?
Often times when we pursue a new goal, we tend to face discouragement from other people and even from that voice in our head that sometimes tells us we are not good enough.
- “No you cannot do this!”
- “No it is not possible!”
- “HAH are you crazy?? You are never going to succeed.”
Sometimes, we may be in the midst of our goal but we face harsh critics who try to put us down.
- “You’re too young for this.”
- “You’re too old for this.”
- “You are not good enough.”
- “This is terrible. You should just quit.”
The natural reaction when dealing with naysayers or critics is to be upset. We beat ourselves up and wonder if something is wrong with us. Subsequently, some of us give up. Some of us persist, albeit with less gusto. Some of us reply to our critics, to convince them of our stance. Some of us even try to cater to and to appease them.
However, none of these is necessary.
When dealing with naysayers, negative critics, and people who complain the loudest (empty vessels), our job is simply to… turn a deaf ear. This means
- being DEAF when people tell you that you can’t make it;
- being DEAF when people give you unconstructive feedback; and
- being DEAF when people try to put you down.
Why? Because when you so much as spend one second dealing with or even thinking about naysayers, that’s one precious second taken away from working on your goal. When you spend ONE ounce of energy tending to or even feeling bad about the negative remarks of negative critics, that’s ONE ounce of energy taken away from progressing on your goal on your life. Be it to lose weight; to start a business; to get back to studying to change your job or to overcome a bad phase in your life.
Your job here, as the owner of your goal, is to focus on YOUR goal, your vision, and to pursue it relentlessly. To keep your eye on your prize and to put your best foot forward in achieving it. All while playing deaf to those who try to steer you away from your goal. I know its not easy – you can find ways to cope – I tend to use dark humor myself.
In time to come, you will find the negative remarks become softer and softer. And the naysayers get lesser and lesser.
Soon, you no longer have to play deaf — there are no naysayers around anymore. Not only that, but you may notice that some of your past naysayers have become your biggest supporters. And finally, you reach your goal. For some reason, everyone is now cheering you on.
That’s when you know you’ve won.