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The tree frog’s guide to self development

[ 0 ] November 28, 2016 |
frog prince bobble-head toy

My latest froggy friend from my mom

Last week, I went on a retreat in Puerto Rico. Our venue was perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, and we were in the rain forest part of the island, so we had the sound of tree frogs lulling us to sleep each night. It was amazing.

The whole time we were there, I couldn’t decide whether I was happier about the glorious view or the frogs! Frogs were my favorite animal when I was a kid, and my mom still occasionally buys me a frog toy if one catches her eye. I knew this retreat was going to involve transformation, and that can be scary even if you want it really badly. I had the best support I can imagine with my coach and the other folks in the retreat. On top of that, it felt amazing to be surrounded by a chorus of thousands of friendly frogs cheering me on! And they weren’t shy, either. They really let it rip.

So imagine my surprise when we went on a guided tour of the rain forest, and the guide told us that my froggy friends are not technically frogs. They’re called coquís. They look like frogs, and they act like frogs, but with one difference. Frogs lay their eggs in water. They hatch as tadpoles and then gradually transform into frogs. Toads go through the same lifecycle. But coquís lay their eggs on land, and when they hatch, they’re already frog-shaped and ready to go. They skip the whole tadpole thing and get right to the good stuff.

What if we can do the same thing?

I feel like that’s kind of what I’ve been doing these past few months. If you start out cowering in corners and hiding behind the couch every time the phone rings, do you have to go through years of baby steps before eventually, someday, having the courage to get in front of people and maybe even lead a retreat? Nope. I can tell you that for sure.

lizard on tree at resort

This tiny lizard was also my friend!


I can also tell you from my days as a freelancer that you don’t have to spend years undercharging and “paying your dues” before (ever so slowly) raising your rates to something remotely livable. Once you realize you’re undercharging, you can just change your price right away. When I did that, I was afraid nobody would hire me, but it turned out that appropriate pricing gave me more credibility. For the good clients, it actually helped me win projects.

So, if this kind of immediate change is possible, why don’t more people do it? Lots of reasons, but here are a few that I see a lot.

  • We don’t know it’s possible. We grow up hearing rules and seeming-truths that tell us we can’t skip ahead. Pay your dues, better the devil you know, and all that. They’re so ingrained, most of us never even think of questioning them. We just assume they’re true and do as they say.
  • We secretly don’t want change as much as we want to complain and feel safe in the same familiar problems that we already have experience with. (For example, children of alcoholics are often irresistibly drawn to alcoholics as potential spouses. Consciously, they don’t want that, but beneath the surface, they’re re-creating the familiar.)
  • We misidentify the problem spend a lot of energy banging away at a symptom, completely missing the root cause where the change actually needs to happen. Over time, when it doesn’t stick, we get discouraged and give up.
  • We have no idea how to start. Or, we have way too many ideas, experts, and programs to follow—we can’t pick just one. We stay in analysis paralysis and never really get anywhere.
  • We can’t see the bigger picture when we get stuck. We don’t know why it’s not working, and we don’t know what else to do, so we quit.

If you’ve struggled with any of these things, I want you to know that you’re not alone. It makes sense that anyone in our society would have these problems, because we have so much structure in place to reinforce them. It’s totally normal to have these problems.

And, that doesn’t mean you have to be society’s tadpole. Now that you understand the game, you can choose to play it however you want. Fast, slow, leapfrog, or leap-coquí—you make the rules.

If you could skip ahead to any outcome you want right now, what would you pick?

I invite you to give this question some thought. Then decide: how fast do you want to go? What can you do to get started right now?


If you want some support, I’d love to help you!

Part of the value I provide as a coach is to help you see the possibilities, identify the right problem to work on (not just a symptom), defuse the old rules and limiting beliefs that hold you back, and make a concrete plan. When surprises come up, I can also help you work around them instead of giving up.

I have room for three new coaching clients to start in December. This is a great time to start coaching because I can also help you make the most of the holidays and finish the year strong. Click here to apply.

 

 

 

About Cara Stein: I'm a writer and dreamer with a PhD in self-reinvention. (Or was that computer science?) Whether you're stuck, lost, or just looking to enjoy your life more, I want to help because I've been there!

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