Be A Bullfrog! Just Say No!

"I'm not a diva. I'm a tadpole trying to be a frog" - Toni Braxton

I detest winter. I hate the cold, dark, snowy days and especially the quiet. Everything is eerily asleep. Spring is my favorite time of year because everything bounces back to life and the sounds of nature linger in the air. We have a relaxing pond with multiple waterfalls that trickle all summer long intermingling with the sounds of bees, birds and big ole bullfrogs.

As I’m writing, I am sitting by my pond right now with three massive bullfrogs staring me down huddled amongst the rocks. I know that there are many more which is rather creepy as we check one another out. Their throaty croaks echo around the breezy air while a fish or two jumps in competition.

 Over the years I have learned that each frog has its own personality. Some jump at the slightest sound, others are friendly and even tolerating playing dress up. The picture below was the handiwork of my son.  Harris easily caught a bullfrog and the frog patiently waited while Harris made him a little hat and he actually sat on the table for some time enjoying his new wardrobe! His older brothers were more interested in eating frog legs as a snack. I quickly shut that idea down!

As with everything in my garden, I was curious to learn more about my bullfrogs and their throaty croaks that sound like a drawn out “nooooooo”.

Just who is the bullfrog?

·         Bullfrogs are big. They can be 4-6 inches long and weigh up to 1 pound. They are native to North America living in lakes, ponds, marshes, woods, and slow waters. Yes, they probably would be a good light snack!
·         Bullfrogs live a long life. They can live up to 10 years in the wild and 16 years in captivity. They are true survivalists.
·         They can be fierce and are natural predators. Surprisingly, they are part of a group of the 100 most invasive species in the world.
·         They do have enemies (other than teenage boys wanting to eat their legs).  Raccoons, snakes, turtles, and large birds love them.
·         They don’t care much who they eat and will actually eat their own. They eat fish, mollusks, small birds, and mammals. Hmmm. Maybe I should shoo them away from my fully stocked fish pond?
·         Bullfrog has a very powerful body with a huge head and mouth.  They are designed for jumping and quickly glide through the water.
·         From where I am sitting now I can see hundreds of tiny tadpoles along the edge of the pond.  Females can lay up to 20,000 eggs however, I am sure that my Koi enjoy eating a large population of them. Luckily these little guys tend to eat algae and aquatic plants. It’s when they drop their tails that I will need to be concerned!
·         American bullfrogs are usually more active at night when they begin their deep throated croaking. Mine tend to like to vocalize in the early morning as well. Their “noooooo” vocals are very loud and can make me jump. Their croaking can be heard over a half mile away and they are very loud this time of year during mating season.

Bullfrogs add a glorious baritone to the high pitch singing of the birds and droning of the bumblebees. Unfortunately, they can’t drone out the annoying buzzing of mosquitoes in the dark of the night. As I listen to the low “nooooo” I am reminded just how hard the word “no” is for most of us to say – or say it with meaning! American Bullfrog Facts

As any parent knows, saying “no” to a young child isn’t always easy especially when they look so sweet with pleading eyes. Over time though you may find that it’s the only word that leaves your lips and you find  it’s all too easy to say “no” before the child is even done talking. So why do so many of us have such a hard time saying “no” at work to our boss or team?  If we are able to pull the word out of our lips we may very likely sound just like our friend the bullfrog. Our “no” comes out as a deep throaty drawn out “noooooo” making it hard to understand or hardly convincing. Why is saying “no” so difficult?

“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better that a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble” – Gandhi

Can you remember the last time that you offered up a flat out “no” at work to your boss or a colleague? Most of us don’t and if we do, it was uncomfortable wasn’t it? You may have had to pry the word from your lips and may have even drawn out the “no” just like the croak of the bullfrog. There are good reasons that we can’t say no very easy and I bet these will hit home:

·         Most of us hate to disappoint our team and we want to be seen as a “team player”.
·         We have a reputation to keep and we don’t want anyone to think that we can’t handle more responsibility.
·         Some of us are just too nice to say no. We want to be liked and a part of the group.
·         Some people take receiving the word “no” personally and most of us avoid hurting the feelings of others.
·         If you hate conflict you will avoid the two letter word at all cost!
·         Few of us like offending anyone and that’s  what it feels like when we say “no” to an “opportunity” when it’s presented to us.
·         There have been times when I have been flattered to be invited to work on another project when I probably should have spoke up and said “no” knowing all the work that I had on my plate already.
·          Let’s face it. Sometimes people catch us in a weak moment and we cave in and say “yes”.

I bet that there has been more than one time where you couldn’t say no and you committed yourself to more work. You quickly regretted it however; it’s tough to undo a “sure” with a “no thanks”.  In reality, you aren’t doing anyone a favor, including yourself, if you commit to something that you can’t give 100% to and may actually end up disappointing someone or your team with incomplete work.  One of my weaknesses is my over exuberant enthusiasm for new projects and opportunities. I say “yes” and jump into new projects without thinking of my current capacity for taking on more. I‘ve learned that I need to pause and step back to examine what else I can take on before opening my mouth.

You can say “no”! Just put your bullfrog lenses on and Say “NOOOOOOOOOO”!  Here are some tips to help you morph into “no”:

·         Stall by responding that you need to check your calendar and current projects. This gives you time to think the request over.
·         Accept that you owe it to yourself to protect your time and sanity. Be realistic about what you can take on.
·         Remember that there is a difference between pleasing everyone and helping out. You just can’t please everyone and the word “no” gives you an out.
·         Be true to yourself first as well as your own priorities and life commitments.
·         White lies aren’t always bad you know…..
·         Saying “no” to someone gives you the chance to say “yes” when you need to down the road.
·         You don’t want to become the person on the team that becomes known for always saying “yes” to everything.
·         Respond by saying that you can’t help out this time, but please check in again when help is needed.
·         Don’t allow yourself to become someone else’s dumping ground for work. Some people are very sneaky at spreading their work around to avoid doing it themselves.
·         Don’t feel guilty about saying “no”.
·         You can be a resource instead of taking on more work. You can also offer the name of a colleague that may be better equipped to help. Everyone wins this way.
·         Don’t make excuses and be honest with people why you can’t pitch in.
·         Practice saying “no” over and over in front of a mirror and become more comfortable with the word

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that it IS acceptable to say “NO”! Remember the bullfrog and feel free to croak the word out!