Allow me tell you about an experiment with a frog. Scientists placed a live frog in a large container of water. Then they put the container on a stove. Next, they slowly turned up the gas flame under the container. The water heated so slowly that the frog didn't notice until it was too late to jump out of the water that was nearing the boiling point. The frog could have escaped from the container had it not adapted to the hotter water.

In psychology, this phenomenon is called sensory adaptation. The frog's ability to adapt to the slowly increasing temperature of the water was not a good thing for him. Neither is it good for us when you and I adjust to changes around us that could do us in.

In many years of helping people deal creatively with change, I have discovered a strange phenomenon: we get accustomed to terrible situations and don't realize how hot the water is getting. Why do we stay in that water that is approaching the boiling point?

Perhaps, we fear that we may jump out of the frying pan right into the fire. So, instead of jumping, we tread water without hope of ever extricating ourselves from our troubled waters. However, there is always the possibility that we could jump free from the hot water and avoid the fire at the same time. At first glance, that choice seems risky. Yet, some of us are slowly dying right now by staying in the ever-increasing hot water. We are paralyzed by the prospect of change.

Here are some steps that we can take to avoid this paralysis.

  • Be aware of the changes taking place around you. If you are honest with yourself, you will notice early warning signs long before it gets too hot. Don't deny the signs of change around you. Face them squarely. For example, if your health condition is deteriorating and you have been denying it, act now. Take a proactive approach to dealing with the medical problem.
  • Get on the crest of the wave of change. If you do, you will avoid being swept up in the undertow. Position yourself to deal with the changes as they take place around you whether medical or any other area of your life. For example, read the writing on the wall carefully when it comes to your job. What are the changes that are taking place in your occupation? Will your skill level today put you in the best position for the next millennium? If you need to add to your expertise, position yourself to be ready for tomorrow's employment opportunities.
  • Deal creatively with the fear of the unknown. The reason that we are often so fearful of the unknown future is that we don't know how changes will affect us. Change is inevitable, don't attempt to flee from it. Rather, embrace the change and make it work for you.
  • Decide that you will be a winner regardless of what happens in the future. Consider the worst change that could happen to you. Probably, most people would say that the worst change would be to lose their job, have a life-threatening medical situation, or have a relationship end due a breakup or death. How could you be a winner if one or more of these things were to occur in your life? You can be a winner if you plan for the worst possible scenario and believe the best will happen. Take a proactive position and be self-assured about your ability to cope with the changes. Keep up with the opportunities for job advancement or training. If your cholesterol is high, start managing your health concerns today. If a relationship is in turmoil, change the situation or change the relationship. Spend quality time with loved ones now. Don't wait until it is too late to respond creatively to change.

If you follow these suggestions, you will be able to respond creatively to changes as they occur around you. If the frog had taken note of the changing temperature of the world in which he swam and developed a game plan, he would have jumped out of the pot. Don't swim around in your world adjusting to the ever-increasing water temperature.