Nip it in the bud!

I’ve always enjoyed newspaper comics. As a kid I would spread comic pages on the floor, lie down on my stomach, prop up with my elbows, cup my chin in my hands and enjoy the latest shenanigans of my favorite characters in such comic strips as Li’l Abner, Nancy and Sluggo, Popeye, Peanuts and Dagwood & Blondie. The “funny pages’ I called them, frequently referring to them as the “funnies,” such as when mother and daddy were reading the paper and I would ask, “Who’s got the funnies?”
But, to me, the majority of the newspaper funnies running today are not really all that funny. I’m not the only one who feels this way. I was surprised and pleased when my neighbor Chip was talking with me about contemporary newspapers in general and said, “The comics aren’t funny anymore.” Aah… a soul brother!
There are a few strips I enjoy today, however – maybe not on a regular basis, but more often than not, unless the creators go off on a tangent and beat a certain theme to death. One of the comics I frequently enjoy, although not as much as I did before their son Gene grew up, is Arlo and Janis, a middle-aged couple. And, I can certainly relate to one of the recent strips:
Janis runs out of her garden and into the house, yelling to Arlo, “Snake! Snake!” Reclining on a sofa and watching TV, Arlo calmly asks, “What kind of snake?” Incredulous at his matter-of-fact question and at the very idea he is not as afraid and excited as she is, Janis blurts out, “A Snake Snake!!!
I understand where Janis is coming from. Everyone in my family knows I feel the same as Janis when it comes to encountering snakes. To me, a snake is a snake, especially when I meet it in person. I have run from some and I have chopped up a few with a hoe or an axe. When speaking at engagements, some of my most popular and most requested stories have dealt with snake experiences.
The reason this snakey stuff comes to mind now is because I was reading an article this week about the current presidential election, and it referenced successful businessman Ross Perot who ran for President in 1992 and 1996. In a 1988 interview in Fortune Magazine, Perot compared problems, roadblocks and challenges to snakes. He explained what was happening at General Motors and other businesses at the time:
“I come from an environment where, if you see a snake, you kill it. At General Motors, if you see a snake, the first thing you do is go hire a consultant on snakes. Then you get a committee on snakes, and then you discuss it for a couple of years. Eventually, the most likely course of action is nothing. You figure, the snake hasn’t bitten anybody yet, so you just let him crawl around on the factory floor. We need to build an environment where the first guy who sees the snake kills it.”
Perot echoed what Barney Fife said many years earlier on the Andy Griffith TV show: “Nip it in the bud! Nip it! Nip it! Nip it!” Of course, the nipping is not always the easiest thing in the world to do. At times, it is extremely difficult. But that doesn’t mean we stop nipping. When sneaky snake appears, we have a choice of running from it, allowing it to survive, grow and reproduce – or – we can nip away in order to eliminate what is causing us problems and holding us back.
© 2012 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books. The free mentoring and self-help site is based on his A Strategy For Winning book and program. E-mail inquiries to or view Visit Facebook Carl Mays and Facebook MyMerlin.


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