The Crab Bucket effect

If you put a crab into a crab bucket on its own, it’ll climb out. However if you put two crabs into a bucket they will both stay in the bucket. The reason for this is that as soon as one starts making its way out of the bucket the other will pull it back in. Funny how human behaviour, despite our superior complexities, is still basic as a crab not wanting the other crab to make it out of the bucket. For me and (I suspect) every other entrepreneur this is a dilemma that we all encounter at some stage.

Crab Bucket

Crab Bucket

Friends, family, teachers and even college professors, whether intentionally or not have a tendency to try to pull you back into the crab bucket. Social norms and established protocols dictate that there is one way to play the game of life. If you’re not playing their game in their reality then they get uncomfortable and will do almost anything to put you in your place according to the extinct rules the ingrained in school.

There is a massive discomfort when someone’s potential outgrows the norms surrounding them. In the same way that once the four minute mile was broken then many more followed, success breeds success – and to get there one must resist those that try to pull them down. All too often the weight of the people pulling you down is the only reason that would be entrepreneurs fail to jump the hurdle.

What if your success meant that you earned a multiple of what your friends or family members made – would you then be the outcast? If you earn the success would you be comfortable in deserving it?

In the same way that drug addicts associate other drug addicts and immature girls are attracted to immature boys, sometimes entrepreneurs and others aspiring success in their field must make some hard choices about those that consistently drain their enthusiasm and energy.

What it comes down to is boundaries

Tony Robbins once put me onto an inspiring concept that has stayed with me through the years. Within your circle of comfort is where the majority of people live their lives. However if you go outside your circle of comfort then an amazing thing happens. Not only does your level of comfort expand to achieving that task but your whole circle expands so now many unrelated things that once were considered outside your zone of comfort, in the area known more commonly as FEAR, become within your comfort zone.

Zone of Comfort

Zone of Comfort

In the same way that skills learned being the captain of a rugby team might help you as a team manager in work years later or as a parent trying who needs to motivate their kids to do homework. Expanding your comfort zone has many potential and unforeseen benefits.

Once you have expanded your boundaries it is important to become very protective about who you let in and out. In the same way you wouldn’t encourage a known thief into your house you should consider your newly created expanded comfort zone – something worth protecting. Build windows to see out into the zone outside your zone for further growth and doors to allow people into your personal space but also to keep those out that are just going to steal that which is more precious than money or possessions – your enthusiasm and energy.

It’s interesting that when you do move your boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable; real friends will adjust to accept you for what you are. It just takes a little time for you to make the transition out of the crab bucket and let them know you haven’t entirely left them behind.

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