It's important to know if you are a bird or a frog in business

What Every Business Owner Needs to Know–Are You A Bird Or A Frog?

You need to know if you are a bird or a frog in business

Are you a bird or a frog…? Knowing which one you are can dramatically impact your success in these ways and many more:

  • How you build your business and structure your offers, 
  • What you look for in associates and staff, 
  • How you communicate with your clients and team, 
  • How to understand and build on strengths and manage weaknesses, 
  • Who you seek as business and referral partners, and 
  • How you go about building a high-producing team.

This post is for you if you want to build a high-functioning team, build a multi-disciplinary practice, or just understand your own strengths better so you can be more productive.

It Took A Mathematician

Eric, a University of Pennsylvania mathematician and my seat-mate on a long flight, was the first person to teach me about the birds and the…frogs. He introduced me to a classic article (in the world of math and physics) called “Birds and Frogs,” written by Freeman Dyson (2009), a British theoretical physicist and mathematician.

The article chronicles the history of mathematicians and physicists who found that the hardest problems could only be cracked open (and solved more easily) by looking outside of their own disciplines for new insights and tools. This has evolved into an intentional strategy of cross-fertilization that benefits their own disciplines and each other’s.

Birds Scan The Horizon

People who are birds scan the environment for new ideas. They love novelty and are always on the look out for useful tools, techniques, and insights, which they gather from diverse places—podcasts, journals, popular media, conversations with strangers on airplanes…

Birds love to connect ideas to solutions, especially in new ways, so they need to experiment and experience new things and environments. If they come across an idea that is useful for solving a current problem, they’ll try it out. If not, they’ll think “That was cool!” and move on. Later, however, if they are trying to solve another problem where the idea might be useful, it will pop back into awareness.
In business, birds tend to be visionaries, inventors, fire-starters, thought leaders, and big picture thinkers.

A chiropractor who is a bird is likely to naturally enjoy building a multi-disciplinary clinic, not just for the practicality and treatment value of it, but because they feel enlivened by cross-fertilization of idea and think best in their own disciplines when they interact with others.

Birds tend to have very broad interests. While birds may seem unfocused and distractible, often they are following a possible thread of connection between an idea in another practice or discipline and its potential to seed growth in their own.

Does this sound like you?

Frogs Dig Deep Where They Are

Or, does this sound more like you?: Frogs are people who dig deep into a skill or topic and become one of the deepest go-to experts. Whereas a bird may invent the protocol, they typically will not stay with it in the way that a frog will to test and refine it.

Frogs test facts and objective evidence to solve specific problems. They may dedicate their entire careers to solving a single problem in their field, and in so doing are often honored as unsuspecting heroes.

Frogs value routine systems and procedures for running a fine-tuned business. They value efficiency and protocols and approaches that are grounded in solid evidence. They are specialists, researchers, and detail-oriented systemizers.

As the analogy goes, a frog may live its entire lifetime in the same lily pond. Many a hero of mathematics has spent his or her lifetime diving into the same muddy waters to solve a single vexing theorem.

The frog’s work is essential for growing a disciplined practice or business. While they may not be the ones to create a new breakthrough protocol, they are the ones who perfect and fine-tune it so that it may be taught and applied with consistency and efficiency.

Controversies that surround names like Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin often focus on the lack of credit given to the frogs who translated their thought experiments into useful applications and scalable products.

Is One Better Than The Other?

As Dyson says, “It is stupid to claim that birds are better than frogs because they see farther, or that frogs are better than birds because they see deeper.”

All enterprises need birds and frogs to work from their strengths and collaborate in order to innovate, scale, and grow.

Most profitable health & wellness practices, clinics, and businesses either started with a bird and frog team, or started with one and soon brought in the other. One is highly effective at seizing new opportunities and the other is essential for making them happen in a sustainable way.

Birds tend to be strong starters and frogs strong finishers.

Know Your Strengths To Maximize Results

So many docs and other smart people who are stuck have hidden strengths they either don’t know they have, cannot access fully, or don’t know how to manage. More often than not, these people are birds, as bird gifts may be harder to measure than those of frogs.

I often find that bird types know more about what they believe (or have been told) they are bad at than they do about their true gifts and talents, which are many!

Want to know if you are a bird or frog and how to apply that knowledge to grow your business and simplify your life? If you do, stay tuned for Part II.


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