Fable of Felix the Flying Frog

I'm a happy frog. I like to do frog things. If God wanted me to fly, she would have given me wings!

Fable of Felix the Flying Frog

I first heard about Felix the Flying Frog some years ago and often use this fable to encourage discussion when reflecting on the do's and don'ts of project management and bewildering behavior.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named Felix. Clarence lived a very modest life based on his very modest salary. But he never gave up his lifelong dream of being rich. One day, hit by sudden inspiration, he exclaimed to his pet frog, "Felix, I have a wonderful idea. We're going to be rich! Because you are going to learn to fly!"

Felix was terrified at the prospect. He would have turned green at the thought, but he already was. "I can't fly, Clarence! I'm a frog, not a bird!" Clarence was very disappointed at his pet's response and told Felix: "Your attitude is not very positive. I believe you can benefit from some intensive flying lessons.”

 

I will study all these books and not make a fuss. I will learn to fly. Who was that guy, Icarus?

So off Felix went to a three-day training course where he learned about the history of aviation, the basics of aeronautical engineering such as lift, thrust, drag, etc., gliders, parasailing and the lives of famous fliers. By chance or by design, the instructor did not mention Icarus.

On the first day after the training was finished, Clarence could barely control his excitement while Felix could barely control his bladder. Clarence pointed out that their apartment building had seven floors. Here was the plan for the "flying" project. Each day Felix would jump out of a window, starting with the first floor and working his way up to the seventh floor.

After each jump, Clarence and Felix would analyze how well he flew, isolate the most effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able to fly like a bird.

Do you have a fear of flying?   I now have a fear of dying! 

Felix pleaded for his life, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. "He just doesn't understand how important this is," thought Clarence. "He can't see the big picture." So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out. He landed on the ground with a thud!

The next day, poised for his second flying lesson, Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window. Clarence opened his pocket guide to "Effective Project Management" and showed Felix the chapter about how one must always expect resistance when introducing new, innovative programs. With that, he threw Felix out the second-floor window.THUD!

On the third day, on the third floor, Felix tried a different tactic: stalling. He asked for a delay in the "project" until better weather would make flying conditions more favorable. But Clarence was ready for him: He produced a timeline, pointed to the third milestone and asked, "You don't want to mess up the schedule, do you?"

From his performance appraisal feedback, Felix knew that not jumping today meant he would have to jump TWICE tomorrow. So he just muttered, "OK, let's go." And out the window he went.

 

If I were a Wizard, I could fly and soar. Do they have Wizard stuff at the Dollar Store?

It’s not that Felix wasn't trying his best. On the fourth day he tried to imitate a glider with no luck. On the fifth day he flapped all four of his legs madly in a vain attempt at flying. On the sixth day, he tried visualization. He tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think Superman thoughts. It didn't help.

By the seventh day, Felix, bruised and battered, accepted his fate and no longer begged for mercy. He simply looked at Clarence plaintively and said, "You know you're killing me, don't you?"

Clarence pointed out that Felix's performance so far had been less than exemplary; failing to meet any of the milestones he had set for him. With that, Felix said quietly, "Shut up and open the window." He leaped out, taking careful aim at the large jagged rock by the corner of the building.

 

I know I did not survive floor seven. But I'm happy again. I'm now in heaven. 

And so it was that poor little Felix went to that beautiful lily pad in the sky.

Clarence was devastated. His project failed to meet a single objective he set out to accomplish. Felix not only failed to fly, he hadn't even learned to steer his fall, Instead, he dropped like a sack of cement. Felix had not listened to Clarence's advice to "Fall smarter, not harder."

The only thing left for Clarence to do was to conduct an after-project-review and try to determine where things had gone wrong. After reviewing the results and giving the data much thought, Clarence smiled knowingly and said, "I know what the problem was. Next time, I'm getting a smarter frog!"

What’s the lesson to be learned from this froggy fable? We may have the best of intentions when initiating a project, but sometimes our initial premise, or frog, just won’t fly. And how brilliant was Clarence? He was upset that his frog, Felix, could not fly and make him rich. What a dummy!

Didn’t he realize he could have made a fortune with a talking frog?

© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011. All rights reserved.   Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So"

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Comments 32 comments

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

This is the saddest story I've read all week! He was green too :(


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Yes, he was green but he's in a far, far better place.

Besides he's not as pretty, creative or self-sufficient as you or he would have learned to outsmart that fool, Clarence.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

I can't tell you how many bosses I had that were just like Clarence. I vowed that when I became a manager that I would succeed where my "mentors" failed and so kept my promise.

I absolutely enjoyed this story! I think that everyone should read this story. You did an excellent job presenting this and yes, Clarence COULD'VE made a killing (sorry for the pun) with Felix!

Thanks so much for sharing this one :D

P.S. Congrats on your 10,000 page views! Well deserved!


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, dohn121. It;'s so nice to have you vist and thanks for the lovely comments. 10,000 views? What a nice milestone. Thanks for telling me.

I always found that by beginning a seminar for new and emerging managers with this story provoked a LOT of discussion and much of it agreeing with you - Clarence could have made a killing with Felix as a talking frog.

You do not have to apologize for the pun. I love them!

I even have a blog: jokesnpuns.blogspot.com all about stupid jokes and outrageous puns.

Someday I'll find the time to keep it updated. These days Hubpages takes most of my time.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 6 years ago

I think what spoke to me the loudest was he fact that Clarence was pig-headed and lacked the ability to listen effectively or allow another to contribute. Clearly he valued his own opinion above and beyond that of anyone else.

He was also incredbibly dense.

Oh My Goodness! You've written a hub about my mother!

Great hub drbj - shame about the frog. Add me to the list of frog novelties.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

frogdropping - can you hear me laughing and see me practically doubling over?

I am! It was your crack about your mom. Too much!

Since I collect pigs (not frogs - you're still safe), could we amend your remark about Clarence from pigheaded to bull-headed? In fact, he was mastodon-headed - the most bull you can have in any one place.

Did I mention? Your exquisitely unique avatar was the inspiration for me to remember this fable.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA

Hi Doc - As I read your tale, between laughs, I was reminded of my buddy, Larry. He was a pilot, dangerous, but licensed to scare the daylights out of folks like me who would have gladly tossed him out of windows, etc., except that he was 6-1/2 feet tall and weighed 278 pounds. (Navy trained, of course)

Gus :-)))


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Gus - Happy you learned the first rule of survival: never try to toss out a window anyone who outweighs you.

Also happy you had a few laughs.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 6 years ago

Oh wow! That's putting you in a favorabe position in the Book Of Frog, of which I'm sure you're aware is the only book worth taking note of (besides yours of course. After all, yours is real and exists on paper. Mine just exists in the ether). The Mouth of Frog is a powerful tool.

And honest, you wrote a hub about my mother. That's her to a tee. Awful woman. Unfortunately. She could have been so much more than she is. Like ... a mother for e.g. :)


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

This fable really got me thinking: How can one know if the idea will fly, especially when it is different? Just today my husband and I were discussing several ideas. I know they are doable, but will they fly? Is it all in the marketing and/or contracts? Is it something more. I have very little professional experience and no corporate experience, so maybe I am missing the entire point of this, as the last time I had to make decisions with a group of people was for junior prom. :)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

fd - You have already written a number of remarkably creative and inventive books.

They exist on the pages of your Hubs. That's the real Book(s) of Frog.

Sorry about your mum. But then not everyone is perfect like thee and me. And sometimes I'm not too sure about thee. Kidding, of course. Old Quaker quote.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Ivorwen - you are making decisions on a daily basis - just not in the corporate arena. You asked how can one know if a decision will "fly" if it is different, although it is doable?

My answer - you can never absolutely know but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. The saddest folks I've met are those who go thru life wondering "what if?" What if I had taken a risk and tried that ... etc.

First, do your research. Is there a demand for your new product or service? Is there a sizeable market? There's a wonderful invention that has been of unbelievable value to new entrepreneurs. It's the Internet.

I'm so fascinated by your question I plan to write a hub about it next week.

Start your research in the meantime.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 6 years ago

drbj - don't be sorry about my mom. She certainly isn't!

RE Ivorwen - I went through this with my current job. An idea formed and it went from there. Researching it was my first port of call. It was also my second. I then started knocking on doors - if you don't ask, you don't get.

It snowballed from there. What seemed a 'good idea' became a 'viable enterprise'. I went back, researched further, also using knowledge I already possessed from a professional perspective.

As for the marketing - if whatever service or product is needed, is a little touched niche - you'll be able to market it. If you've done the research, you'll have a good idea of who your market is and you will have started a list (I did anyway) of potential future contacts.

Once your idea has moved into becoming a tangible, your marketing strategy should have already been tailored. I know this all sounds a little ambiguous but it's just an very general overview of something I did.

Starting with resreaching the market just felt like the obvious place to begin. Somehow, if all is done well, the steps become interlinking. Eventually you'll get from A to Z.

Right now, I'm roughly around the letter T :)

Anyway - I'm sure drbj will write something far more understandable than my waffle and I'm looking forward to reading it!


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

drbj, I look forward to your hub.

Thank you for the starting point, and Frogdropping, thank you for sharing your experience.


Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

My god, I read this and thought, calrence is/are my parents ( sometimes) so I am like frogdropping, that hit me teh hardest.)

Still well written love it!


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

OMG, Rebecca E., how remarkable that both you and frogdropping are the progeny of parents who sometimes behaved like Clarence.

I salute both of you for surviving what may have been a less than idyllic childhood, and applaud what you appear to have accomplished in your respective lives to date, especially your superior writing skills.

And thanks for the kind comment.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Hi Doc, great hub. This story, with slight variations (9420 to be exact) has been used on the web mostly to illustrate the folly of management and their charges when it comes to choices. Clarence chose to ignore the obvious gifts and chose to use training and power to force a ridiculous outcome. Felix chose passive-aggressive behavior which resulted in the ultimate aggressive statement on the rocks. Felix had some other choices and hanging out with Clarence was clearly not his best option. I think this story is so widely used because it strikes a chord in all of us whose real talents were invisible to those who had come control over our destiny. When I look at the government, I see the story---I for one, intend to join the voices of the assertive voters and get Clarence replaced before we reach the top floors. =:)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hello, Winsome.

What clever comments and you're absolutely right. The story of Felix is pefect as an illustration of all too common corporate behavior. So often when our gifts or talents are ignored by those who have power over our work, that's the time to do something else somewhere else.

Great analogy. Only problem - we don't really know how many floors there are!


Twenty One Days 6 years ago

LMAO! That is awesome! Dr. You should put this into a series of corporate cartoons! Hysterical.

...ribbit....


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

What a great idea, Twenty One Days, I would love to do a series of cartoons spoofing the inanity of corporate culture, and Felix could be the "Dilbert" of frogs.

Only problem - I can't draw much more than a straight line.

Can you draw? Congrats on speaking "frog."


jacobkuttyta profile image

jacobkuttyta 6 years ago from Delhi, India

Very interesting story with a great message. I enjoyed it and learned some points. Thanks for sharing.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

It's my pleasure, Jacob.

Thanks for visiting and the very kind comments.

It's my fervent belief that we never stop learning.

Unfortunately, some people do.


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada

This is the first time I've encountered the frog story but I immediately recognized the metaphor.

I tried to play the corporate game when I was younger. Fortunately, I caught on to the senselessness early enough and ran away after hitting the ground from about the third floor!

A good job as always, drbj. This is a very enjoyable read; keep up the great work.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Niteriter - You were clever to realize the incredible inanity and senseless stupidity we encounter in the corporate culture. Is that abundant alliteration or what?

My solution was to put myself in the position of advising corporate behemoths (as an executive coach) how to "play nice." Simetime I even succeeded.

Thank you for the visit, niteriter, and the salubrious comments. Salubrious in this case meaning they make me feel good.


kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

Wow, I guess Clarance was so focused on his selfish desires that he failed to notice what was right in front of him. Nicely written. Thanks for a good Hub.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, kaltopsyd - how nice to meet you. Thanks for the visit and the gracious comments.

Good point. Sometimes we can not see what is there looking us square in the eye. Of course, in the case of Felix the frog, Clarence would have had to direct his gaze downward. Guess he failed to do so.


PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 6 years ago

Oh poor Felix! I am sure there are many other Clarence around us, wanting to have better fortune for themselves at the expense of others.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

You are spot on, PaperNotes. Many organizations have too many "Clarence" managers who move up the ladder at the expense of their "Felix" subordinates.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

How we can relate, I say we because I know weve all dealt with such leaders or lack there of. All of us are better, smarter, and more productive than one of us who knows not how to lead. I agree you should def utilize this genius to create a comic series. We could all use your smart and true to life comic relief! Peace :)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida Author

Thanks for the kudos, katie. Your comments reminded me of an old adage, "none of us is as smart as all of us." That's why managers need to know how to effectively lead a team which includes two-way communication with all team members. Clarence never allowed Felix to participate in decisions.

Comics BTW are a great vehicle to prove a point but unfortunately my skill at drawing is non-existent. I'll leave the illustrating of corporate foibles to Dilbert.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Think of all of the 'talking frogs' we miss....I had never heard this fable...where have I been?? It is one I will long remember....

I know when I come to your pages I will find refueling for the day.

Angels and hugs are on the way...the sun is shining this morning...love the rain..but am feeling a little soggy this week... ps :) Pinned, shared, and voted up


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Delighted I could be the one, Patricia, to acquaint you with famous Felix. He IS memorable. Also happy to provide refueling. Hope you are well ... and DRY!

Thanks, m'dear, for the pinning, sharing and Up.

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