Have you ever heard the story about a frog that gets boiled alive?
Well, there’s this little frog. It somehow ended up inside a big pot of water which was conveniently put on a stove. The stove was on by the way (but only with low fire) which means water got slightly warmer, then slowly got a bit hotter, and a bit hotter. Interestingly the frog didn’t try to jump out of the pot. Instead, it just sat there not moving a single muscle. So the water got even hotter until it finally reached boiling point. The frog didn’t move at all (you wonder why).
It eventually died, boiled alive.
This didn’t happen, of course, no frog was harmed during the writing of this story.
It could happen though. The science behind this is simple. The frog adjusted itself to the increasing heat of the water because it got hotter slowly. The poor frog would have jumped out of the pot if water got hotter quickly. But it didn’t, so it decided to stay and try to overcome (and persevere) in the midst of hot water. It got used to the new heat and when the heat went up it adjusted itself again. Then the time came when it was too late. It got to the boiling point and the frog realized it lost the battle – it was boiled alive.
Let’s use the same principles in overcoming tough times in business. The question we need to ask ourselves is similar to the frog. “Am I being boiled alive and I don’t even realize it?”
We also tend to adjust ourselves to difficult times. We become stronger so we could face adversity. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s us (the person). What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. It is very true indeed.
However, when we go through tough times in business it’s not only us that gets pummeled. It is the business itself also. So let’s rephrase the question a little bit now focusing on the business. “Is our business getting boiled alive and I don’t even realize it?”
Business is made up of different substances. Its blood vessel is filled (as you have probably guessed) with “cash”. While its infrastructure is made up of a complex relationship between owners, staffs, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders the whole thing is run with cash.
Now, with tough times this complex infrastructure is damaged. Unlike the human race, a business does not get stronger after getting damaged. For example, a brand does not get stronger after it got bad publicity. A business does not lose customers and gets stronger as a result.
The people inside the business got stronger though. However, these experiences, skills, and everything else that the people learn during difficult times – they don’t always stay with the business. They move around following the footsteps of their owners.
The business itself would suffer. Its complex infrastructure split, its ability to earn and keep cash broke down. It would do that until such time that it would completely break. That is the breaking point.
So what’s the point of all these you might ask?
It is crucial to know the breaking point of your business.
As much as we want to persevere during tough times our business is separate from us. It does not have our brain, heart, and soul. We are the brain, heart, and soul. Just like the frog, we cannot control the heat around the business. On the other hand, we can control whether we want to make the jump or not.
Do you know your business’ breaking point?