A while back, I remember reading a most interesting thing about a key difference between fishing for lobsters and for crabs. Apparently with lobsters you have to keep a watchful eye as once caught and dropped in a bucket, lobsters will keep trying to escape — so you need to have a top to your bucket. With crabs, not so much. Crabs won’t try to escape from a bucket, but instead will pull any other crab possibly making a break for it back into the bucket — all for one, and one for all, as long as they’re all in the bucket together. Misery truly does love company, it seems.
So here’s the question as it relates to your own daily life — how many crabs do you have in your personal bucket, grabbing you and holding you down, not letting you escape the confines of the bucket and get on with your goals, plans, and dreams, whatever they might be?
What might this look like? Well, how about your smoking friends that would really prefer that you don’t give up smoking and so they secretly (and not so secretly) sabotage whatever efforts you might be making to avoid the regular trip to the smoking corner? Or your group of pals that “guffaw” when you share with them how miserable you are with work with great, supportive lines like: “Are you kidding? Your job is heaven compared to mine! I’d kill for your job — you’re such a complainer…!” Whether your crab-like friends are raining on your parade about your health goals, career aspirations, travel plans, or whatever, it’s all pretty much the same exact not-so-subtle message: “shut up and get back in the bucket with the rest of us miserable people — you have no right to seek anything different that what you have now. Get used to it.”
Here’s the key question: Why are you letting them keep you back? Are you too afraid to speak up, tell them you have your own personal aspirations, tell them to either get with the program and support your goals, or shut the f*** up and get out of the way? That is exactly what you need to do to climb out of your mental bucket and get on with your own plans. What did Einstein say? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result.” If you truly want to change something in your life, one of the things you may well need to do is to change out your “support network” for people that truly are supportive of you and helpful in helping you aspire to more, and to accomplish your personal goals.
Now, I’m not talking about surrounding yourself with sycophants and yes-people. They are not much help either in making things happen. The people in your bucket need to be both supportive of your goals and constantly challenging you to do something tangible about them. They need to be the types of people who will take the time to help you get clear about what you want, and then ask: “great — what specifically can I do to help you achieve that?”.
So take a good hard look at the people in your life, and think about your interactions with them in your personal and professional life. Are they lending a helping hand to help you move forward, or grabbing at you, impeding your personal growth, and keeping you in the bucket? You might want to start swapping out your crabs for some lobsters.