Recently I read a book called, “Before You Leap,” by Kermit The Frog. You are probably familiar with Mr. Frog, who bills himself as an “international television and motion picture star, a humanitarian, an amphibitarian and an educator.” He’s better known as the star of “The Muppet Show,” on Sesame Street.
The book’s title, “Before You Leap,” gives the reader insight into the content, but the subtitle describes it perfectly, “A Frog’s-Eye View of Life’s Greatest Lessons.” Throughout the book Kermit gives advice on everything from making your dreams come true to dealing with difficult people and challenging situations along the way.
The author begins by relating the story of his birth and how he left his 2,353 tadpole siblings after he grew his legs and left the swamp to pursue a career. Throughout the book Kermit gives the reader advice on meeting life’s challenges.
“Dreams are how we figure out where we want to go, life is how we get there.”
“Every journey begins with a single hop.”
“Success is believing in yourself, and then convincing everyone else you’re right.”
One of the most intriguing chapters is titled, “How to win friends and meet influential people.” Kermit discusses the power of friendships. Much of his insight extends beyond the animal kingdom and can be applied to humans, especially those of us in the trucking industry.
First, be happy with who you are. If you’re not happy with yourself, you won’t make a good teammate, friend or spouse. If you’re not pursuing your dreams and realizing what is important in life, you won’t be happy. If you can’t look in the mirror and smile at your reflection, start by making changes with yourself.
“Begin every interaction in a friendly manner.” Maybe you were treated badly by the desk clerk or inspector, but don’t lower yourself to their level. Smile, be approachable and be kind. People will react differently and your world will be much happier; just try it for a day or week or month and see what happens.
“Be genuinely interested in others,” and “let the other person do most of the talking.” You’ve heard the phrase, God gave you two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. After spending the day in the cab alone, most drivers love to talk. If you listen to their conversations, you’ll understand what troubles they are facing and what makes them happy. Just listen and nod and smile and see what happens.
Watch someone’s face when you are telling him or her a story and see if they are really listening to you, or if they are merely waiting for you to finish so they can share their experience. Next time, just let them talk and encourage him or her to continue. If he’s not all that interested in hearing what you have to say, don’t insist on talking and just let him or her dominate the conversation.
Kermit’s next rule to always show respect to others which builds upon the second two suggestions. If you are friendly and show interest in people you meet, you will also be respectful. The people drivers meet while doing their jobs often treat them less than professionally. From the guy in the loading dock to the woman behind the fuel desk, you might not always get the respect you deserve, but don’t let their attitude spoil your day. Turn it around and be respectful to them and they’ll think twice about the way they address you next time.
“Expect the best from others,” is Kermit’s next rule. Don’t assume the scale master is going to do everything possible to find a violation. Be pleasant and just let him or her do the job. Think about how you would approach drivers if you held that position. “Appeal to others’ higher motives.” Know that safety is a priority for both of you and agree to focus on that instead of being confrontational.
Another rule for being happier is to be open to new things. Tired of the same food? Try something you’ve never eaten. What about reading a different kind of book or watching a movie you don’t normally consider. Change your hair or your clothes for a new look. Make new friends, or as Kermit puts it, focus on having a “cross-species” network of friends!
The final rules for making friends include having a sense of humor, being honest, avoiding arguments and admitting your mistakes. Be quick to forgive and finally, “give freely of yourself and your talents.” Help the new driver understand how to fill out logbooks, or share the best places to stop and eat or shower. Be helpful.
Nothing Kermit teaches us is new, but sometimes we need to be reminded how to make friends and in doing so, make the world, swamp, or trucking industry a better place to be.
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