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Living Toad Free
By: Dan Bobinski & Dr. Dennis Rader

This is an excerpt from Living Toad-Free, a book by Dan Bobinski and Dr. Dennis Rader, available soon from Leadership Development Press.

From the book
Living Toad-Free:
Overcoming Resistance to Motivation
Stories of Those Who Do and Those Who Don't....

Coach Hatfield knew about Toads. He knew where they came from, but more importantly he knew how to get rid of them. The key, according to Coach Hatfield, was to figure out what Toads were getting in the way, then eliminate them.

Coach Hatfield was a basketball coach at a small college in Illinois. He was tough, but he let everybody play. Most folks said he worked miracles, because somehow he developed teams out of a school too small to really have the horses.

At the beginning of every season Coach Hatfield sat down with the new players and told them the following story:

"Mr. Centipede woke up early one morning in a great mood. He had a date later that day with the centipede of his dreams, Ms. Diana Centipede. She had one hundred of the longest legs he'd ever seen! "Mr. Centipede showered, put on his favorite yellow socks and fifty pairs of black Addidas tennis shoes. He slicked back his hair, flashed himself a confident smile in the mirror and headed for the door. With every leg in perfect rhythm, he flowed out of his little cave on the side of the hill.

"As fate would have it, Mr. Centipede chanced upon Mr. Toad, sitting alongside the trail, in his usual toady frame of mind. Mr. Centipede, beaming confidence, raised ten of his legs in a friendly salute and said, "Good Morning, Mr. Toad. How are you this gorgeous day?" Mr. Toad gave Mr. Centipede an aggravated glance, then grumbled back. "'What's so good about it?'"

"Realizing he didn't want to lose his own good mood in debating with a Toad, Mr. Centipede turned his head and answered to the air about the bright sun, the puffy clouds, and the fresh air. Then, starting up his jaunty, rippling body once again and with all his legs in perfect rhythm, he flowed past Mr. Toad.

That's when it happened.

"Mr. Toad's brow furled as he watched Mr. Centipede glide past. Then a quizzical look came over the toad's scowling face as he called out to Mr. Centipede in a gruff, toady voice. "Mr. Centipede! Stop! There's something I want to ask you."
Mr. Centipede stopped, looked back over his shoulder, and said, "What is it, Mr. Toad?"
"How do you do it, Mr. Centipede?"
"Do what?"
"Walk! How do you walk with all those legs in perfect unison! How in the world do you manage to move them all, much less at the same time?" "Mr. Centipede tilted his head and thought about the question. And he thought. And then he thought some more. Mr. Centipede missed his date. In fact, Mr. Centipede never moved again!

Then Coach Hatfield explained to his newcomers how Sammy Centipede had encountered a Toad of Distraction. "The toad," Coach explained, "sent the Centipede's state of mind into a whirlwind-totally taking him off guard. So much so that he froze."

The new ballplayers nodded as if they understood, but Coach Hatfield wasn't done yet. He showed them a plaque with a saying engraved on it:

It's no sin to be blocked.
Only to stay blocked.

Then Coach Hatfield would say, "There are a lot of Toads and Toady situations in life that trip us up. Fear Toads, Perfection Toads, Inferior Toads, Superiority Toads, Intimidation Toads, Guilt Toads, you name 'em, they're out there! We've all got our share of them, but that's okay. What's not okay is to let any Toad, small or large, grow so big that it cripples us. The worst Toads, the biggest ones, are those that live in the confines of our own minds. These are the Toads that we feed and care for ourselves."

The players were looking a bit confused, so Coach Hatfield threw a hard ball teaching straight at them: "There are two kinds of basketball players. One is the guy fooling around on the playground. He isn't serious. Either he isn't committed or he hasn't got the guts or the brains to nurture his talent. The other kind has the courage and the fortitude to challenge the toads preventing him from being the best he can be. Those without the dedication, the courage, or the perseverance to eliminate their Toads should go home now. You will become mature players in this game or you will be gone!

"Whenever a Toad knocks us down we're going to either get back up to knock it down or we're going to find a way around it! People who succeed at this game are just like people who succeed at life. They don't feed or pamper their Toads. Instead they find them and exterminate them! We will not allow any Toads to get in our way! Is that understood?

It was understood. The Toad concept worked to bring the teams together every year. In fact, the shout of "Kill the Toad! Kill the Toad!" became the team's rally cry, much to the confusion of opposing teams.

Coach Hatfield used the Toad analogy all the time. He frequently chose his starters by looking each player in the eye and asking, "Are you Toad-free tonight?" And once, when the team's best player developed an attitude of superiority, Coach Hatfield helped him become the team's best "team-player" by showing him how his ego had become a Toad to the rest of the team.

Coach Hatfield's Toad stories taught his teams about resiliency and stamina. They learned to take the heavy blows and keep on moving. Hence, they were never routed. Not only did they never quit as individuals, they "jelled" so well as a team they ended up winning games that, on paper, they weren't supposed to win. When they were defeated they were still full of pride because they always maintained flow and momentum, even in the face of overwhelming competition. And when they did lose, it was because they faced a truly superior team, not because they defeated themselves. Coach Hatfield called that character. No matter what the score or the reputation of the opposition, all of Coach's players held onto their integrity. And they eliminated their Toads as soon as they recognized them.

2000, 2003 Leadership Development Press

Want to get your organization more "in the flow?" Want to minimize excuses and maximize forward momentum? Dan Bobinski and Dennis Rader are available to conduct Toad-Free Workshops for your organization. Just click here to let us know of your interest.

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