Selective Listening

In his book, God Always Has a Plan B, Scott Degelman tells this story: “A group of frogs was hopping through the woods. Suddenly, two of them plunged into a deep pit, which had been covered by loose grass and weeds. 

As the other frogs circled the pit, they quickly concluded their friends were doomed. Frantically, the two misfortunate frogs began leaping with all their strength. ‘Give it up,’ their cohorts scolded them. ‘You are as good as dead.’

But still the frogs kept jumping. After thirty minutes, one of the frogs gave up, curled up in a dark corner of the pit and waited to die. The other frog kept leaping even though his companions above the pit kept jeering.

Finally the frog propelled himself to the top of the pit and pulled himself to safety. One of the surprised frogs shouted, ‘Wow, it’s a good thing you ignored our taunts!’ The safe frog looked at the other frogs with a puzzled expression.

Then, using sign language, he explained he was actually deaf, couldn’t hear anything, and when he saw their frantic gestures and flapping jaws he thought they were encouraging him!”

The lesson for us is clear. When we have a goal, believing we can accomplish something, there may be those in our midst who tell us we will never achieve it. Sometimes people even do so lovingly, thinking they are protecting us from great effort and ultimate disappointment. 

My mother did this. When I was in high school and looking seriously at going to college, she told me she didn’t think I would ever make it, mainly because of the money. I knew I wanted to be a counselor which required not just one college degree but two, so I completely ignored her and moved forward looking to solve the financial barriers from all directions.

Instead of listening to her, I listened to financial aid advisors, people who awarded scholarships, career counselors, and potential employers. Through a combination of grants, scholarships, loans, and working several jobs, I made my way through both college and graduate school, just like the frog made it out of the pit.

Did you know Clint Eastwood was once told he would never make it in show business? Did you know J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter books were rejected dozens of times, deemed worthless by several major publishers? What if they had listened and given up?

Be careful who you listen to. NASA failed to put a rocket in space 20 out of the first 28 attempts. When they decided they were going to put a man on the moon, many thought they were crazy! Imagine all we would have missed if they had listened to the discouraging, negative thinkers in the world.

You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Having the ability to listen selectively to feedback you receive along the way, filtering through what is true versus false, will support your efforts tremendously. 

Remember, everything is feedback: what works, what doesn’t, what feels right, what doesn’t, and what moves you closer or further away from the direction of your dreams. Surround yourself with people who really believe in you, who understand your motives and will cheer you on as you take action toward your goals.

Be open to feedback from those you trust the most who may have insights to share that will catapult you to the next step for achieving your desired outcome. 

Above all, turn a deaf ear on those who live in a pessimistic state of mind most of the time, those who rarely believe in anything beyond the status quo. Remember, one frog let the group tell him what was not possible, so he resigned himself to their beliefs and lost his life because of it. The other frog lived because he chose to interpret their feedback differently and believed he could get out of the pit. 

It’s all about listening carefully, making your own decisions, and believing in yourself no matter what. So, never, ever give up on your goals and dreams! Do you hear me? (Smile)

© - Cindy D. Whitmer (Aug 11, 2012)