Kiss That Frog, by Brian Tracy and Christina Tracy Stein (Hardcover, 2012)|
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Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
On the jacket, you read that Brian Tracy is a best-selling author. That
doesn't surprise me, as he's produced several books. I've listened to a couple
of them in audiobook format, but I think this is the first print edition I've
read. Perhaps my existing familiarity with his work is why I feel a bit
underwhelmed by this book. I personally didn't find new wisdom in it, but then
I've read hundreds of books in this genre (and have reviewed a fraction of
those). And my age probably has something to do with it.
I think for the young person starting out or perhaps just hitting mid-career,
this book can provide a framework for keeping one's eye on the proverbial North
Star. That said, age doesn't always mean people grasp the lessons life has given
them. So regardless of your age, if you're in some kind of negative funk you
would probably benefit from reading this book if you take the time to reflect on
what the authors are saying.
One downside of this book is it consists more of retreaded tales from the
self-help literature than of original material. For someone with little exposure
to the genre, this isn't a problem (thus my comment about the young person
starting out). And I suppose that means the authors are using proven ideas
rather than re-inventing the wheel. People will pay six figures for an Ivy
League education (such that it is), and you can rest assured the syllabi, texts,
and lectures are not completely rewritten each year.
What's original about this book is its theme. It centers on the story of the
princess who kissed the frog. Said frog subsequently turned into a prince.
Let's ignore the patrician overtones of that tale, and its underlying
assumption that women's lives are meaningless without a man but if she finds a
prince she will live happily ever after even though princes throughout history
have been notoriously vain, self-centered, narcissistic, and out of touch with
reality. The point of the story, as used by the authors, is you need to face
what's bothering you even if doing so makes you uncomfortable to the point of
revulsion. For many people, facing a particular cause of unhappiness and
resolving it is like kissing a frog.
Everything else in the book is a riff on that basic melody. It's a simple
concept, but the execution is often difficult.
Another problem with the book is some statements just are not true. In the
inside jacket, for example, it says the authors quote Shakespeare with "There is
nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Let's do a thought
experiment. Suppose you smash your thumb 17 times with a hammer. As you examine
the pulp that remains, you try thinking to yourself, "This is good!" Does that
quote from Shakespeare really work for you, in this case?
The point the authors intended to make was you can choose to let something
get you down or not. That's generally true. In many cases, you would have to be
a psychopath to feel good about this or that occurrence. If you see a child get
run down by a car, your natural response is going to be profoundly negative
unless there is something very, very wrong with you. And you would probably
always feel bad about that event.
That said, the principle does apply if, for example, you didn't get that
promotion you wanted at work. You could choose to let the opinion of someone
higher up make you feel permanently angry, so you then slack off in your work.
Why try, if trying previously didn't pay off? Or, you could choose to kiss that
frog. You go to your boss and say you really wanted that promotion but obviously
there was a difference of opinion. You tell your boss you view this as an
opportunity to improve, and you ask your boss to help you map out a plan toward
It's this kind of response to adverse events and adverse conditions that the
authors are talking about. Quite often, it doesn't take much to completely turn
the situation around. The authors use an example of a car that had one
carburetor part inserted backwards, and after the mechanic fixed this the car
went from being adequately powerful to amazing its owner.
Not that I
personally would use such an example. Having built, rebuilt, repaired, and tuned
dozens of carburetors (mostly Holley and Rochester brands) during the 1970s and
1980s, I am perplexed as to what part this could have been. More likely, the
mechanic installed larger jets. That would explain the power increase. It could
be this story suffered a bit from the telephone effect (recall the classic
game). Its lack of detail adds to its lack of plausibility, at least in regard
to a backwards part. Thankfully, the authors do use other examples.
authors repeatedly make the point that "moping about it" or feeling resentful,
angry, etc., won't change whatever is dragging you down. Negative feelings, in
fact, can make things worse. And I think understanding that is how you get into
the habit of solving problems instead of letting them control you and defeat
This book consists of 12 chapters and a conclusion, spanning 138 pages.
If you're dealing with negativity, your answer may lie within.