Beached whale and boiling frog

Most of us have story of batchmate/colleague who lost his job and is unable to find a new one. This person either masquerades as consultant or will tell you that he has not found anything matching his standard, so prefer to remain unemployed till he finds something worthwhile.

I am aware of few such people, as I belong to category where such cases are common i.e. in age group of 40+ and belonging to IT/Telecom industry, where chances of losing job due to mergers/acquisitions, failing to learn new skills etc. are high.

What these people fail to understand is they are like beached whales, stranded on beach due to some mistake of theirs and now unable to get back into sea. Longer they strand on beach, lesser their chances of survival.


A stranded whale ends up in that state when it chases its prey and gets too close to shores or sometimes get mislead by sonar of submarines. Once stranded it should somehow try to get back into sea on its own or with help of others, else it will die of dehydration.

Newsweek published a nice article on this– Beached white males.


While beached whale is a reality, there is also a metaphor of boiling frog.

Keep a frog in vessel filled with water and you lit fire beneath it, the frog being cold-blooded animal will keep adjusting itself to rising temperature, but after certain point, esp. when water starts boiling, this mechanism of adjustment fails to work. Frog is now unable to bear the heat and now wants to jump out of water, but is unable to do so, finally is boiled to death.


I am calling it a metaphor because in reality, the frog jumps out well before water starts boiling.

Like “beached whales”, “boiling frogs” too are not uncommon in organization. This happens when a person is very comfortable in his job; he does not see any reason to change and somehow thinks that this situation will last forever. He fails to notice changes taking place around him ex. innovations, automation, hiring of better talent, new products and services etc. Skill that he has mastered in his long tenure may have become redundant. By the time he realizes that he is redundant it is too late, organisation is more than eager to hand over pink slip to him.


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