Doing the most difficult things first

Column by Michael Norton


The other day I found myself facing a situation where I had to have a difficult conversation with someone very close and special to me. And the more I thought about it and waited, the more difficult the conversation was becoming in my head and I almost talked myself out of raising the issue and having the discussion.

Then I remembered something that Zig Ziglar used to say, “If you ever have to kiss a frog you will want to kiss it right away, because the longer you wait, the bigger and uglier that frog is going to become.” And then the thought will become so gross that we will eventually just avoid it completely.

Have you ever been in a situation where there was a difficult task, or something that you just did not want to do? Maybe it was going to be a terrible or fierce conversation you had to have and the simple thought of it was giving you heartburn and a headache.

The fact is that the more we delay or avoid the task or discussion, the more our minds take over, and our imagination creates scenarios that are far worse and more horrific than what the reality will actually be. Additionally, as we go about our day, or our week, or maybe even our weekend, the more that we carry the burden of having to do what we ultimately have to do, the less productive we are in all other areas of life.

Not only are we less productive, we become distracted, and other things that we enjoy doing and people we appreciate being around are forced to suffer along with us as we are just not ourselves during this time.

On the positive side, when we finally get the action item we have been dreading off our plate, deal with it and get it past us, we are liberated and have freed ourselves up to get back to doing the things that bring us happiness and allow us to focus on our goals and other tasks at hand.

Now don't mistake this as a suggestion for rushing into action and calling someone out, initiating a tough talk, or tackling a less than desirable activity. The recommended approach is to make sure that we have taken the time to consider the “why” behind the difficult task, thinking through and considering carefully what we have to say or do. Maybe at least practicing the 24-hour rule to give ourselves time to think it through is the minimal approach. But at the end of the day, when we have thought it through and know with absolute certainty that we must take care of the issue or challenge, we should make it the very next thing that we do.

Is there something looming over your head or heart that you know that you need to do but have put it off out of dreading the event or outcome? I would love to hear all about it at, and when we tackle those ugly frogs first, the rest of our day will be better than good.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of


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