Crab Buckets and 4 Other Things to Overcome

If You Aren’t Intentional, You’re Going to Stay Where You Are

If you put one crab into a bucket, it will climb out. If you put several crabs into a bucket, they’ll stay put. Once one crab starts to climb, the others will pull it back down. It’s a bizarre form of if-I-can’t-do-it-neither-can-you.

When was the last time you sat down and watched children play? Isn’t it magical? A towel becomes a cape. With a stick in our hand, we’re a mighty swashbuckler. An empty box is a race car, a spaceship, and a secret lair. Nothing can stop our quest to rule the world, save the world, or tame the high seas.

Then at some point, we “grow up”. We start to listen to the crabs telling us it’s just a towel, just a stick, just a box.

Those crabs are just one of the things you need to overcome to be awesome.

©iStockphoto/AshleyPickering

  • Haters. Some people just can’t stand to see someone happier, wealthier, or more successful than they are. It causes them real emotional pain. They just can’t stand to be reminded of what they’ve given up on. Their cynicism and pessimism is a poison that will bring you to a halt if you listen to them.

  • Fear. I’m reading Jon Acuff’s Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work that Matters. (“Punch Fear in the Face”—how can I not want to read that?) He calls fear schizophrenic:

    Fear tends to argue both sides of the coin, leaving you absolutely no room to stand. Here are two of the complete opposite things it will tell you: “Don’t chase your dream at all.” And, “If you chase your dream, you have to do it all at once.”

    Do you see the absurdity of that? “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!” fear screams. Then, when you ignore those cries, fear changes its tactic and screams, “Do it all at once! Do it all at once!”

    Isn’t that just insidious? Fear tells us we shouldn’t start. Then, once we start to muster the courage to start, fear instantly changes its approach and tries to overwhelm us, pushing us back.

    We’re afraid of change. We’re afraid of the unknown. We’re afraid of making mistakes. Courage isn’t the absence of fear—it’s acting in spite of fear. Get going. Do something to show fear who’s boss.

  • Perfectionism. How many times have you held off on doing something because you didn’t know what you were doing? Well, that’s not surprising—you haven’t done it yet. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first. You’ll get better at it. Until then, “good enough” is better than you think it is.

  • Momentum. Change is hard. Other commitments, habits, and routines are holding you back. If you keep doing what you’re already doing, you’ll end up where you’re already going. If you’re on the right course, fantastic! More coal, full steam ahead! Otherwise, hard to starboard (to the right, if you’re facing forward) and hang on!

  • Negative Self-Talk. Are you constantly cheering yourself on? Or are you constantly berating yourself for the mistakes you make? You spend more time with yourself than any other person. You can build yourself up like no one else, or you can destroy yourself more quickly and effectively than any one else. Be supportive. Encouraging. Positive. Whether you tell yourself you can or you can’t, you’re having a huge influence on what happens.

There are others, of course. If you overcome these, you’re off to a (very) good start.

When you identify a crab in your life, work with them to change their behavior. Show them the door if they won’t change.

Surround yourself with cheerleaders and a good pit crew—people who will encourage you and help you succeed. Do the same for others. The more you help others succeed, the faster you will find success yourself.

Question: What stands between you and ruling the world? How are you going to overcome it? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. For more information, see my comments policy.