COMMENTARY: Will, Fern, and the Power of Encouragement

Two frogs named Will and Fern fell into a deep pit together. At first, they thought it would be easy to jump out. But after lots of failed attempts they cried for help and a crowd of animals gathered around the pit.

Everyone agreed it was hopeless so they urged Will and Fern to accept their fate. The harder the trapped frogs jumped, the more the crowd yelled at them to give up. Finally, Will stopped trying. Fern refused to quit and with one mighty try she leaped out of the pit.


The crowd was amazed. Someone asked her why shekept trying when everyone told her she had no chance.

Fern was baffled. “What are you saying?” she asked. “I’m a bit deaf. I was sure you were all cheering me on. I couldn’t have done it without your encouragement.”

I learned of this story from a woman who was in a transitional housing program recovering from a long period of drug abuse, homelessness and hopelessness. She wanted everyone to understand how important positivism and encouragement can be to help people who seem down and out to get up and out. She said she got out of her own pit because caring people helped her believe in herself and gave her the confidence she needed to jump a little harder.

There will always be people in your life ready to tell you what you can’t do. Real friends root for you, support you and help you discover your inner talents and strengths.

I hope you will find and treasure those kinds of friends and be one yourself.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 10

  1. Another repetitive story…. I think I have seen this same commentary 2 or 3 times already. Any new material Michael?

  2. Civility Counts as part of Character. When wanting to critique, send a private message instead of posting for all the world to see. Negativity reflects only on the posting guest.

  3. Patsy – a simple comment that is relating to repetitive story is what you find negative and should be hidden? Character is doing what is right even if no one is around to see it, even more so, character is based on honesty. The comment was civil, to the point. Perhaps others think it too. It’s an opinion based on a commentary on the site and have no reason to hide it, it’s the truth. The world is already filled to capacity of keeping things quiet, hiding behind closed doors and sneaking behind backs. I was honest in my post and very civil. The stories have become repetitive, simple as that. I enjoy the commentaries and yearn for new stories since I follow the newsletter closely. That in of itself should show that I support Character Counts!

  4. A P P R E C I A G R A M

    Dear Michael,

    You have to be one of the nicest persons who ever drew a breath of air. You’re an asset to your profession and a credit to your community.

    Thank you very much for being one of my worthy role models. Thank you very much for inspiring and motivating me to do an even better job of being my best self for the common good.

    My we keep on enjoying the love of “The Man in the Mirror”, God and others, thanks to our honesty, integrity and productivity.

    Love you,


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  5. The same situation could have a new solution, of course. Frogs can float (or swim). They could ask for the hole to be (gently) filled with water, or a bystander could think of it. Maybe even a bystander who had been ignored by the group. I am confident that you can work this into an ethical homily, Michael, for next time. Keep up the good work.

  6. One thing to consider JVF is that some people, like myself, have never seen/read this story. And, it may come as a much needed inspiration to us to keep trying – when we do not feel we have the strength to anymore.

    Thank you Michael for this dose a encouragement. I appreciate you.

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