~Joel’s Blog

The Lesson of the Crab

Dan Miller, in his terrific book, The Rudder of the Day; Stories of Wisdom to Kick Start Your Workday recounts the story in Robert Kiyosaki’s, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, about black crabs. If you have ever gone “crabbing,” you can easily visualize someone ambling down a beach, toting a bucket of fresh, vigorous crabs. Once you have learned the trick of catching crabs, it’s pretty fun to go collect enough for a special dinner.

The premise of the story is that the crabs crawl all over each other in the bucket. Once in a while, an intrepid crab will reach up to the lid, working hard on an escape to freedom. But the other crabs won’t have that, and pull the would-be escapee back into the bucket. This, of course, leads all of the crabs to the same fate.

The moral of the story, however, is that we all have “black crabs” in our lives, people who negatively influence our performance, intentionally inhibit our attempts at success or actively impede our enthusiasm. These people can be family, friends, or coworkers. Dan writes,

Small thinkers find it much easier to tell you why something won’t work than to help you find a solution. People who feel trapped and are struggling at a low level of success are seldom ones who will cheer you on to a new endeavor.

Crab R Us?

Before I’d heard this story, black crabs meant nothing more to me than crabs darker in color than the ones I used to go crabbing for. But I immediately recognized the “black crab” characteristic among some of the people around me!

In my family, countless times that I expressed a desire to try something, the idea would be challenged—and sometimes mocked—by an older sibling. Or by a friend. Or a teacher.

But, it is hard to imagine that anyone hasn’t had a similar experience. In fact, I wonder who hasn’t experienced the “black crab” syndrome in their life? Of course, it is important to put these kinds of comments—and the people who make them—into a context where they don’t hold us back from striving for something more, something better than what, where or who we are at this moment. It may take time to grow beyond the naysayer’s point of view. But it does no one any good to empower those “black crabs” and allow them to control our choices and limit our reach in life.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced “black crab” people in your life? If so, how did you deal with them?

Next time: what if you are the black crab?

Engage here.

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