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Firm Management

Fables of the Reconstruction: Leapfrog 2020 Into 2021

We are the frog, sitting in the boiling pot. As 2020 draws to a close, far too many are unaware how hot the water has become. Like most of us, you may not have sensed the water’s boiling point as we try to stay on top of a constantly changing set of chal

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Never before has the fable of the boiling frog been more relevant than today. 

We are the frog, sitting in the boiling pot. As 2020 draws to a close, far too many are unaware how hot the water has become.  Like most of us, you may not have sensed the water’s boiling point as we try to stay on top of a constantly changing set of challenges and difficulties. 

For those who haven’t heard this horrid tale before, the story goes like this. The frog gets placed in a pot of cold water that slowly comes to a boil.  Since the water warms over time, before the frog realizes its fate, that is the end of the day for our friend the frog.  This fable illustrates the dangers of living in the moment—a common failure when either too much good or too much bad takes place around us.  It is hard to both go through life each day and notice the small or large incremental changes that each day brings.

Whatever your age or experience, we are all in the same pot, as it were.  For the millennial generation, this is not the first global event you have witnessed of its kind. For the older crowd, we may have lived through wars, prior epidemics on smaller scales, economic downturns—but nothing quite like 2020.

The boiling point

The first step as we enter this final quarter of 2020 is to stop and recognize where you are today.  You, your co-workers, and especially all your clients, are each feeling many of these same feelings. What differs may be our abilities to articulate them—and to appreciate that we are at a boiling point.

It is okay for you to admit this has been a truly raucous year.  Before you can scramble out of the pot, your first step is admitting that this isn’t a wading pool or a hot tub. This year is a pot of boiling water. We all need to get out ASAP!

The next step is to share this bit of news with those around you.  Hold a video conference on the topic of the fable of the frog. Use a funny analogy to let your clients own up to how they feel about the stress and frustrations they see around them in their people, their customers—and themselves. 

Show your value by sharing your own truths about what we all know to be quite real. If you’re worried about having this kind of semi-personal conversation with clients, one that isn’t related to a tax return, take comfort in the fact that everyone is in the same pot right now.  Let that shared experience and shared frustration ease your discomfort.  The important thing is that we are all experiencing the same high degrees of adversity, which will make talking about it even easier.

Reaching dry ground

After awareness and self-reflection, we move into the vital step of planning ahead. Let’s look forward to what we can do and what we can control in 2021.

The best way to avoid another boiling point is to barrel into 2021 with a plan of what you want to accomplish.  Take a couple of days as you wrap up 2020 and think about what goals and objectives deserve your focus and attention in the new year.  With a clear direction, you will avoid being pushed or pulled into another pot of water—temperatures unknown—and take control of your own path.

2020 may possibly go down as one of the most challenging years in the accounting landscape and world. Hope is not a strategy as we move toward 2021.

The fable of the boiling frog tells us to be aware of complacency when times are both too good—and too horrible to think we have choices.

We have choices right now. We can choose to climb out of 2020 and regain control of each and every variable within our grasp. Chart your own path to success in 2021 by involving others in the process. Invite co-workers and clients into the conversation. Collectively, there is strength in numbers with more of you and your colleagues acting as network of sensors and indicators in the year ahead.

Don’t let 2021 sneak up on you. The time is now.


Garrett Wagner, CPA.CITP is CEO and Founder of C3 Evolution Group.

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