There are three parables that I've heard over the years, that I think are relevant when considering who we are, who we are becoming, and how we are treating ourselves and others. The stories are about frogs, fleas, and crabs, and if you are honest with yourself you have probably been involved in one or more of these situations in your life. At the very least, you have probably observed one or more of these in action.
There is an old story that says that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately jump out, aware of the obvious danger that the boiling water presents. However, if you put the frog in a pot of cold water, and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will not recognize the increasing danger and will remain in the pot until it boils to death. For many, the parable of the frog and the water (it's in the Bible I think, just search for it, after 3rd John) highlights seasons of our lives where we find ourselves in a bad place, not because of some unforeseen, unavoidable circumstance (though we may feel that way), but because of the decisions we have made, or the people we have spent our time with, that have slowly hurt us or thrown us off course, until we wake up one day and realize that we are in an altogether different spot than we originally intended.
One of the best ways to battle against this scenario, is to be intentional about surrounding yourself with quality people you can trust, who care about you, and who will not only be supportive, but who will be honest with you. There are two groups of people who can be of critical value in this situation. The first and most obvious group, is the friends or social group that you choose to spend time with. Much like the "What Goes In, What Comes Out?" post, the type of people that you spend your time with will directly influence your personal behaviors. If you hang out with kind, encouraging, positive people, then most likely you will display similar characteristics. If you hang out with knuckleheads, you are probably going to, at the very least, display knucklehead characteristics.
The second group that can be influential, is a group of mentors that you can trust to be honest with you, and who can help you grow along your journey. This could be parents, youth leaders, coaches, experienced people in your field of business, or just older, experienced people that you trust and respect. These people can answer and ask questions that will help guide you along, based on their experience in similar situations. it's good to have a balance between both friends and mentors to be sure that you minimize your boiling frog situations, and don't get to far off your desired path.
*Full disclosure, after looking it up, I found that an actual scientist tried the frog experiment to see if the parable was true, and sadly (or gladly?) it was not true. When placed in cold water, frogs did stay put, but as the water got to a certain point, the frog jumped out. The scientist did not test what would happen if he tossed a frog into boiling water, because, that would be some type of cruelty to animals or something. Hopefully this doesn't ruin the point of the story, but I felt the need to be honest with my reader. That's right, singular.
Stay tuned for part II: Fleas