Air Force Recruiting Duty Parable...

Once upon a time, there lived a man named Ben who had an enthusiastic, high leaping, exceptionally intelligent pet frog named Felix. Clarence wanted Felix as a pet because he showed impressive leaping abilities. Clarence lived a modestly comfortable existance, but he had always dreamed of being rich. Clarence rented Felix the frog's loyalty to leap for an extra $275 per month for 48 months, promising Felix "dreams of granduer."

"Felix," he exclaimed one day, "we're going to be rich. I'm going to teach you how to actually fly." Felix, of course, was terrified at the prospect: "Fly?!?......I'm a frog, not a canary!" Clarence, disappointed at the initial reaction, told Felix: "That negative attitude of yours could be a real problem. I'm sending you to class."

So Felix went to a three day class and learned about problem solving, time management, and effective communication.... but nothing about flying.

On the first day of "flying lessons," Clarence could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence explained that their apartment had 12 floors, and each day Felix would jump out of the window starting with the first floor and eventually getting to the top floor.

After each jump, Felix would analyze how well he flew, isolate the most effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able to fly.

Felix pleaded for his life, but it fell on deaf ears. "He just doesn't understand how important this is..." thought Clarence, "but I won't let nay-sayers get in my way." So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out (who landed with a thud).

Next day (poised for his second flying lesson) Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window, to be let out of the rental agreement, and to be returned to Ben. With that, Clarence opened his pocket guide to managing more effectively and showed Felix the part about how one must always expect resistance when implementing new programs. And with that, he threw Felix out the window. (thud)

On the third day (at the third floor) Felix asked for a delay in the "project" until better weather would make flying conditions more favorable. But Clarence was ready for him: he produced a timeline and pointed to the third milestone and asked, "You don't want to slip the schedule do you?"

From his training, Felix knew that not jumping today would mean that he would have to jump twice he just said: "Ok...Let's go." and out the window he went. Now this is not to say that Felix wasn't trying his best. On the fifth day he flapped his feet madly in a vain attempt to fly. On the sixth day he tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think "Superman" thoughts. But try as he might, he couldn't sustain flight. Now Felix's new injuries prevented him from even leaping.

By the seventh day, Felix (accepting his fate) no longer begged for mercy.... he simply looked at Clarence and said: "You know you're killing me, don't you?" Clarence pointed out that Felix's flying performances so far had been less than exemplary, failing to meet any of the expectations or goals he had set for him.

With that, Felix said quietly: "Just open the window." Clarence, in haste and frustration, threw Felix out the window extra hard. Felix drew upon everything he could muster, prayed to God like he had never prayed before, and took careful aim on the pool next to the apartment. Suddenly a breeze came up and helped Felix navigate into the pond. Clarence did not realize that Felix the frog had actually mastered the art of steering in flight!

Clarence saw Ben lift the injured frog from the pool. Clarence shouted to Ben that the frog had been disobedient, gotten away from him, and had jumped out the window. Clarence also told Ben that he would not continue to pay extra rent for a defective frog, and terminated the rental agreement. Ben shrugged his shoulders, told Felix the frog that he was unable to help, but "you'll be good as new, except for probably not being able to leap as high as you once thought you might, since your legs have been broken." Ben took Felix home, letting Felix mend his own injuries.

Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet the goals that he had set out to accomplish. Clarence believed that Felix had failed to fly, not even learning how to steer his flight as he fell like a rock....nor did Felix seem to improve his productivity when Clarence told him to "fly smarter, not harder."

The only thing left for Clarence to do was to analyze the process to try to determine where it had gone wrong. After great thought, Clarence smiled and said: "Next time...I'm getting a smarter frog!"

And so it goes...If the Air Force were Ben, and if Recruiting Service were Clarence, all too often recruiters seem to play the role of Felix the frog time and time again. The moral of the story is to look twice before you leap into recruiting duty.

May God be with you and shine upon you if you do "leap"!


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© 1997 by Al Lamb. Information presented here does not constitute endorsement by any person, official, or organization. Request permission prior to reproducing any part of this document.