In this episode, I go into extreme detail on why it’s imperative to address problems as they arise in business and in life. Problems are often unpleasant, but they don’t age well, like a fine wine or fine chees — they don’t solve themselves.
Full transcript below.
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Mike Malatesta 00:10
Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show and to another one of my Friday short, solo episodes. And this episode is about conflict avoidance, conflict avoidance, and I call it Don’t Be a Frog. So you’ve all heard the story about the frog in the boiling water, right? The way the story goes is that if you toss a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out of the pot. But if you place a frog into a pot of, say ambient temperature water and you slowly turn up the heat over time, the frog will just acclimate itself to heat until it burns, boils over and the frog is deceased. I’m pretty sure the science of that has been disproven, the story is actually a fable. But it doesn’t mean that it still can’t be a valuable metaphor, a metaphor for life and a metaphor for leadership. So I’m going to take the jumping in the boiling water part of that story and place it aside for now. And I’m going to address that in a later episode. Because I think that the second scenario, the one about, you know, the frog sort of acclimating itself to the heat in the pot is way more common and in leadership than the boiling water one.
The part of the story is the one where the heat keeps increasing, and I’m going to use the heat as a metaphor for issues that need to be addressed. In terms of leadership, the heat keeps increasing. And yet, while it’s increasing, the leader, like the frog in the story, does nothing and instead just hopes that things will start to cool down. Now if you think about the stove, the control knobs are nearby, and the solution might be obvious, right? Take control of the knobs and turn down the heat. What’s also obvious is the fact that something needs to be done, but yet, nothing. Now it’s like crickets; we’ll just sweat it out, we’ll just sweat it out a little more, and it’ll get better. That’s how the thinking often goes. And the next thing you know, the whole thing is inevitably boiling over and could no longer be fixed or certainly can’t be fixed easily. So fixing a problem that’s been avoided, fixing the water that’s been boiling becomes just a real-time suck of a problem. And it didn’t have to be.
So what caused that? Well, was it the water? Or was it the leader who chose not to address the conflict, the cause of the water heating up? In my experience, and there’s been a lot of those, it’s almost never the conflict that causes the ultimate problem or the boiling water, or the heating-up water problem. It’s avoiding the conflict, problems, conflicts, people, they can all be unpleasant, you know that. But they can’t be avoided. They don’t age well like a fine wine or fine cheese, they don’t solve themselves. They only get worse. And as they do, your leadership, your ability to lead suffers, and ultimately, it disintegrates.
So here’s the takeaway: address conflicts in your business and in your life as immediately as you can. While they’re fresh, and perishable, meaning like we can kill them, you know, because if you let them go, and you just sort of like take the heat slowly rising, first of all, it’s unnecessary. And second of all, people are looking at you and they’re saying, Why isn’t something being done? This is an obvious problem, and yet, we’re sort of acting as if it’s just going to go away. Conflict avoidance is not a good game plan, in my opinion, and in my experience, so when you see it and you feel it, you sense that something isn’t right, address it right away, as immediately as you can, and put it to bed. And then you’ll be in water that’s cool and comfortable. And get used to being in that water so that as soon as you feel that it’s no longer cool and comfortable, that’s your signal. Let’s do something about that.
I hope you found some value in this episode. Thank you for listening. And my goal is to inspire and activate the greatness that I know is inside each and every one of you. Until next time, make a difference.