What is the one thing you could do right now, today, that would move your business along? What could get you closer to being in business, get you that next client, create future income? If you know what it is, why are you reading this instead of doing it? (I suspect there is something green and croaking on your breakfast plate.)
Are You Really Hungry?
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
This humorous saying has been credited to 17th century American author Mark Twain (though someone on my staff has pointed out to me that there is no evidence that Twain ever said or wrote it; it’s a translation of a statement documented as having been written by a 17th century French humorist named Nicholas Chamfort, who was quoting an associate known as “Mr. de Lassay”).
Though he mingled among France’s upper classes, Chamfort supported the French Revolution. His use of the “frog” statement was aimed at his disgust with French high society.
I first heard the saying from Brian Tracy, the personal development expert and sales trainer; in his book Eat That Frog! He uses it as a colorful way to say, “Stop procrastinating.”
More specifically, “eating the frog,” means tackling the biggest or most important task(s) that will move your business forward.
Why do we generally decline to eat the frog first thing in the morning, or at any time during the day? It’s because these major tasks usually involve things that are totally foreign to us so we feel there won’t be much satisfaction in the short term. Or we’re such perfectionists that we can’t launch until we get it “just right.” In either scenario, there’s a fear of failing.
But if you really want to be in business—if you’re really hungry—you’ve got to eat the frogs.
Frogs Top to Bottom
People at all levels of businesses—newbies to veterans—have their frogs and we all find ways to avoid them.
I won’t lie to you: I have always struggled with distraction and still do. I can look back and make a list of all the things I resisted doing:
- Learning How to Write Copy
- Learning How to Create a Landing Page
- Figuring out How an Email Autoresponder Works
- Creating My First Webinar
- Preparing My First Live Event
- Writing My First Book
I let many of these things drag on for months. I put off writing my first book for about two years.
Each of those things I mentioned in the list above would have moved my business along in a meaningful way:
- By knowing how to write copy, I could have started writing effective ads. Later, I could have used it to write effective lead capture pages and emails.
- By doing my first webinar, I would have been closer to making my first sale (or discovering what didn’t work).
- By writing my first book, I could have opened up an entirely new front-end marketing line, which was very much needed (and which we’ve since done).
There are even tasks today that need to be done that I still don’t dive into like I know I should. Only now, I have a staff and people around who need information and orders, so I can’t indulge in distractions to the degree I could when it was just me.
So how do I stop wasting time and just get on with it?
Worse Than Eating a Frog
The most successful procrastination-busting strategy I’ve ever used is “self-imposed accountability.”
For someone just starting out, who does not yet have a list of leads and customers, you would make yourself accountable to a friend or family member.
Tell them what you’re going to do and when you will have it finished. Declare that the penalty for failing to deliver is some amount of cash that you really can’t afford to lose. Give it to a third party to hold until the due date. Then either deliver and reclaim your cash or fail to deliver on time and lose it.
For people who are further along and do have an audience, the method is to announce your “frog” in an email, on social media, or both. It’s a good idea to put some cash up as well, to ensure you really do deliver. I did this last year when I announced my diet and exercise goals and put up $10,000 to go to charity if I failed.
I failed. I paid. (Looking back, perhaps I would have succeeded if I’d put up $50,000 or $100,000. In any event, the money went to a good cause.)
If you can motivate yourself to take on and complete the things you’ve been putting off—usually, they are big, meaningful things that would move your business forward—you will find yourself actually in business.
If motivation is hard to summon, use self-imposed accountability. If you make the deadline short enough and the penalty stiff enough, the frog will seem palatable in comparison.
Under such circumstances, I’ve found myself so deeply focused on what I was producing that I didn’t even “taste” it.