Have you heard the expression “eat your green frog”?

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it will probably be the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.

I have found these to be in most people’s top 5 “green frogs”:

  • Difficult Conversations (typically receiving or giving feedback)
  • Making a Decision
  • Networking or “social” work events
  • Solving a problem
  • Internal Meetings

Which is the one you avoid the most?

Has one of these been on your to do list for some time? Maybe it is something you are required to do all the time. Maybe it is something else.

In the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy and the gang were terrified of the almighty powerful wizard. But as soon as Toto pulled the curtain back, and they saw it was just a man, he lost his power over them.

I invite you to pull the curtain back on what it is you are avoiding. See what your mind is up to. See how desperate and persistent and clever it is at getting you to focus on that fear. Know that its goal, its ulterior motive is to terrify you or frustrate you or preoccupy you in some way. Right now, make a conscious choice and a conscious effort not to buy into these thoughts. Take their power away.

You may have heard of this Buddhist analogy.

“A thought is like a train pulling into the station. You can either jump on board the train and let it take you somewhere else, or you can watch the train as it passes you by.” 

When you stop buying into these thoughts and fears, you’re cutting off their reinforcement with unwanted behaviours such as avoidance, procrastination and for some, defensiveness. So when you stop reinforcing a behaviour, the behaviour loses its purpose. Then what happens?

You are free to complete important tasks, meetings or conversations resulting in faster and often more enjoyable goal achievement and increased performance.

Achieving more goals, timelines, KPIs etc is within your control.  But be patient with yourself.  The following is very important….


There’s a phenomenon in behaviourism known as an “extinction burst.” When you stop reinforcing a behaviour, you’d think that the behavior would just immediately stop. But we have found that that isn’t the case. When you stop giving the rat food pellets for running on the wheel, it actually runs harder and faster at first, before it stops running altogether. When you stop giving the two-year-old sweets, the tantrums actually get worse before they go away.

No one likes to lose a behaviour that’s working, so there’s a little resistance once the reinforcement is taken away.

So just know that the thoughts may seem to get worse, don’t panic, that’s just an extinction burst. It means means you’re on the right track!

Give it a go!  Let me know what you notice.

I hope this information was of value. If you would like to spend less time in avoidance and spend more time achieving important individual and team goals why not book a 30 minute phone or video consult with me, your first one is on me. Book here

Warmly, Margie Ireland
Leadership Coach | Workplace Psychologist