top of page
  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

Be the Frog. With Thanks to Nicolas Chamfort

Gina Greenlee Collage
Image credit: Gina Greenlee collage

So, turns out that American man of letters Mark Twain did not famously say, “if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you.”

More about that in a sec.

Your frog is your worst task, and you should do it first thing in the morning goes the productivity mantra.

“By ‘worst’ I mean ‘most important,’ and by ‘most important’ I mean the task you’re most likely to procrastinate on,” wrote Gina Trapani in a Fast Company article Work Smart: Do Your Worst Task First (Or, Eat a Live Frog Every Morning). That means, “the deadline you’re dreading, the slides for the presentation you’re terrified of giving, the research you’re sure will turn up information you don’t want to know. Do it, before you do anything else, before you have time to think about it too much.”

Motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy successfully riffed off the alleged Twain quote (cha-ching!) with his 2017 book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.

I worked with a woman who came into work one day, sighed, and when I asked her what was up she said, “I have to drink a blended frog.”

Me? Get downright gangsta zen and BE the frog. Rather than task-orient your day, be intentional about your life, about the BIG but often uncomfortable actions that will contribute to the life you want or amp the wattage on the one you’re living today.

Speaking of Frogs…

Who actually spoke of frogs first? (QI) writes that it “has found no substantive evidence that Mark Twain spoke or wrote the expression about eating a live frog each morning. A variant about eating two frogs also has no substantive linkage to Twain.

“QI believes that the statement evolved from a quotation written by a famously witty French writer named Nicolas Chamfort who socialized with the aristocracy but supported the French Revolution. Chamfort’s collected works were published in French in the 1790s, and a memorably caustic remark about high-society was included. The words were actually credited to a person named Mr. de Lassay who functioned as a mouthpiece for Chamfort.”

Image credit: Stephanie LeBlanc,


bottom of page