March 21, 2013

Boiling Frog or Frog Prince – SJ Shyam

Are you a boiling Frog?
This story is commonly used as a metaphor to relate the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.

If a frog is placed in a pot of boiling water, he will frantically try and jump out. Instead if you place him in a pot of cold water that is slowly heated, it will float there peacefully. As the temperature of the water slowly rises, the frog is not able to perceive the danger and allows itself to be boiled to death.

Lessons to learn: It’s not the problem of stammering that makes us a boiling frog, but the search to find quick fix solutions and lack of practise does. We are now so habituated to try different speech techniques that we give up on them within a few days without sufficient practise and inclusion in our daily life.

This has become a new norm in our life, to constantly whine about stammering, criticising that a particular speech technique (viz. Slow speech, bouncing or prolongation) doesn’t work. This slowly changing trend amongst stutterers is what makes us a Boiling frog.

My Story:

Hello folks

I would like to introduce myself as SJ Shyam (SJ = Stutter Jockey, as we in Mumbai SHG would like to identify ourselves as). Though born and brought up in Mumbai, my roots are from Kerala. I am a graduate in Mgmt studies from and currently employed with a premier financial services firm in Mumbai.

Like most of us in the group, Stammering for me has been hereditary with common problems of not being able to answer attendance calls, fear of speaking with strangers and forced introvertism. It was in the 2nd std, that my mom took me to a speech therapist where I was taught breathing & prolongation techniques, but to financial restrictions was not able to continue the therapy. Based on these 2 techniques I happened to sail through my school & college leveraging on my good academics & artistic skills.

Come 2004 I started off with my first job which brought me extra money and from there the quest for fluency. In the past 8 years I have tried a lot of things viz. Voice Culture, Public speaking, Accent training, teaching at NGO’s, joined career network groups .etc. All provided some relief, but never made me 100% fluent. The dream always seemed distant and illusionary. At work, I was promoted to managing a team and that added an extra pressure on me to communicate fluently. I slowly slipped into “These techniques are a waste and are not working” or the boiling frog syndrome.

In 2011, I approached a speech therapist for the 3rd time and this time I selected a therapist who was also doing her Ph.D in Speech Language Pathology. Hoping that she will provide me customised exercises and that I will benefit from her Ph.D research, my quest was quickly diminished when she provided me the same old breathing and slow speaking exercises for practise. Frustrated, I opted out of her therapy and started browsing the web for cure on stammering, that’s when I found the TISA Yahoo group and blog.

From Boiling Frog to a Frog Prince – June 2011 and beyond

I joined the TISA yahoo group in June 2011 and quickly got in touch with Vaibhav and Romi from Mumbai, who supplemented me with vital information about TISA and their activities. During those times, SHG meetings were not held in Mumbai and so I and Vaibhav used to have regular meet ups in Vashi. To lay the foundation for starting the Mumbai SHG, we made a pact between ourselves that we will spend a lot of time reading through materials on TISA blogs and the web so that we are better at facilitating SHG meets. During our meets we used to discuss articles on stammering, share our problems and discuss possible solutions to the same.

It was in one of these reading materials wherein I got introduced to the concepts of

1. Accepting your Stammering, and
2. Stammering can only be controlled not cured

I began experimenting & implementing this concept in my personal & professional life with great success. For the first time in my life, I stopped worrying about my stammering and started leading my life meaningfully. The goal of becoming a fluent speaker (focus only on Verbal skills) was replaced to becoming an effective communicator (focus on Thinking, Verbal & Non Verbal skills)

Like the story of the Princess and the Frog, the magic spell on the Frog was broken after the princess kissed the frog and the frog turned into a Prince. In my case, I got kissed by these 2 concepts and it broke my boiling frog syndrome. The Frog has been transformed into a prince – A confident, courageous and assertive one

In March 2012, SHG meets got restarted in Mumbai and that’s when I met other members - Ritesh, Romi, Benett, Gaurav, Amey and Ravindra. These meetings were initially facilitated by Romi, but due to work commitments he ceased to attend. Since April 2012, I have been coordinating and facilitating the Mumbai SHG which used to be held in Five Gardens, Matunga every Sunday.

Though our web presence (TISA Blog & Yahoo group) is very minimal, we Stutter Jockeys (aka Mumbai SHG members) are now a very seasoned and active bunch, meeting up every fortnight. We have an active participation of 8 – 9 members every meet. A further 15 members are connected 24*7 on whatsapp group. (More info on Stutter Jockeys to follow in future posts)

To conclude my post, I would like to thank Sachin, JP & Manimaran for their coordination and active patronage to TISA. You guys have definitely been a change agent, to make the world a better place for us to communicate.

SJ Shyam
You can reach me at +91-9892018162


(Welcome to blog race! we have been waiting for YOU jockeys! And many thanks for telling us that TISA has been a princess in your life!! -sachin)


sachin said...

I went thru your post again and was impressed by your conclusions; let me repeat them because they are so true and important:
Instead of practising what we know, we are always looking up for new techniques- in the hope that they will be easy and "fast".
Therefore, in an ongoing search after that "perfect" solution, we refuse to come to terms with facts and are NEVER at peace with ourselves.
This running away from truth completely overtakes us. Very few of us dare to talk about "hereditary" nature of our problem (as you have done- bravo!).
Therapists, always try to "help" us but it never works. Certainly not as well as, when you succeed on your own, with your own efforts and with understanding of what you are doing and why..
SJ- you have done a great job of summarising huge chunks of learning..
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Wow Shyam Ji thanks for this..........

Anonymous said...

wow shyam

very nice

Anonymous said...

Wow Shyam Very good

Dinesh said...

Very refreshing article Shyam!

We lose good part of our life chasing fluency as "THE Goal" in life. This actually stunts our overall growth and only adds to the problem.

This article very nicely brings out that
"What do you do (and how you do) is more important than how do you speak"

Expecting more such wonderful articles from you.

naman said...

Hi...Great article....i was looking forward to it and i must say the patience has paid off.....well i am also waiting for the next step (as we discussed)......