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Kiss That Frog

Book Review of: Kiss That Frog

12 Great Ways to Turn Negatives into Positives in Your Life and Work

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Review of Kiss That Frog, by Brian Tracy and Christina Tracy Stein (Hardcover, 2012)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)


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 that end.

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.

The 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 you.

This book consists of 12 chapters and a conclusion, spanning 138 pages. If you're dealing with negativity, your answer may lie within.


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