Crabs in a bucket

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BY Sarah Robinson

Early evening was one of my favorite times to walk the beach with my mom and my older brothers. We were all clean and fed and slightly sun weary but still desperate to be outside. So, we would grab flashlights, dip nets and a bucket and search the ocean’s edge for crabs.

More often than not, as a crab would begin to inch its way higher to the edge of the bucket, the other crabs would latch on to him and pull him back down.
I watched this scenario play out again and again, year after year.

Fast forward to this morning. As I was drinking my coffee and perusing my twitter stream, and up pops @paul0coelho (He wrote The Alchemist, one of my all time favorite books): “Only mediocrity is safe. Get ready to be attacked, and be the best.”

I did a quick google search and discovered that “Crab Mentality” is actually an official phrase that roughly means “if I can’t have it, neither can you.”
And it is talked about. A lot.

So now I’m thinking about the Escaping Mediocrity journey with this lens.
There will always be people who will subtly or not so subtly try to keep us from escaping. Why?
Because our escape threatens their mediocre existence.
Pulling us down, sabotaging our efforts, picking apart our brilliant ideas – all of that keeps them feeling safe. And living undisturbed mediocre lives.

So what if we added a new piece to the crab mentality picture?
Imagine a crab, or a group of crabs on the other side of the bucket building a ladder to aid your escape. They managed to crawl out of the bucket in spite of all the energetic attempts to pull them backwards.
Because they’ve tasted freedom and they know your struggle, they are putting energy into aiding and abetting your escape.

I believe that for those of us determined to get out of the bucket, such a group exists. It may take some time to find them, but they are there, ready throw a safety rope over the edge and pull us out.

Start listening for them. Start looking for them. They are there. Reach just a little further and they’ll meet you at the edge of the bucket.

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