Wed, April 3, 2013
Surrounded by Crabs? Go it Alone!
There are many interesting phenomena that occurs in nature that we can draw parallels to in our human lives-one of them being the strange “group behavior” of the crab that I find particularly relevant.

If you were to put one crab in a bucket, you would need to put a lid on it to keep the crab from crawling out. If you have more than one crab in a bucket, you don’t need a lid because the other crabs would gang up and drag down any courageous crab that dare try and escape. I can’t help but notice that sometimes we mimic that behavior.

Can it be possible that group behavior between the evolved human species and crabs really be that similar? Can the mentality of “where do you think you’re going?!!?” or “hey if I am going down, you are going down!” or “me first, mister, get down from there!” or “what makes you so special, what about me?!?” or “there is no way I am gonna watch you get to the top!” be so innate that we are doomed to be no more supportive than a bunch of captured crabs in a bucket?

I like to think we are much more evolved.  It comes down to personal choice and a healthy dose of comprehension of what makes us respond this way when someone else is attempting to achieve greatness, or go their own way, (or crawl for their life). I tend to feel that there is only a handful of core, grand daddy of all emotions from which all other emotions stem - the one of the crab (human) being “fear”. 

Fear, which can be so buried and so multi layered that it is not easily detectable to the fearful, can mask itself as ruthless ambition, jealousy, resentment, threat, offense, defense, you name it! And it can manifest in behavior that is overt or subtle but the end result is the same - toxic. Who hasn’t felt a twinge of jealousy at one time or another when someone around them excelled at something? I know I have. There have been times in my life when I was so green that I would grasp at anything nasty just to make myself feel better and the other person look less “excellent".

As a business owner crawling her way up the bucket, I have encountered like-minded individuals whom I thought were my allies, attempt to quietly and ruthlessly yank me down back into the pit of obscurity just so they could get where they wanted to go. And of course not before they had taken a peek into what made me crawl so they could learn the skill for themselves and give it their best shot. We have all had situations like this and I bet it doesn’t take much to recall one; it stings. And it is disappointing, which I happen to feel is the worst part.

At first, maybe the offending group seems intimidating. Perhaps it seems bigger than you are and you feel like your hands are tied. But what I also know from working in the leadership industry and speaking to hundreds of people about organizational life, success, and effort, is that these behaviors (at least in humans) are driven by fear and those kinds of actions cannot sustain themselves IF the lone crab is determined to succeed.

Leadership can be a lot like this phenomenon. People who take on the act of leadership run the risk of not making friends to the same degree that they are likely to forge solid and positive relationships with people. There is almost always someone who feels they have something to lose if a leader gains and that emotion is coming straight from Granddaddy Fear. 

As leaders, either within the organization or in our personal lives, we cannot, should not allow the herd mentality to succeed in dragging us down to the bottom of the bucket. Fortunately for humans, there is someone in your network who truly wants to see you succeed and will make that journey with you and while the others are scrambling all over each other at their dark vantage point going nowhere, your vision will live to see another day.

Finally, this kind of move takes courage and grit. These are two very solid and admirable qualities that not only make your goals a reality, but have an inspiring, positive impact on the people around you. It builds your character and it allows you to achieve things you might not have realized you could achieve. It builds resilience and independence and a wise perspective on relationships and who to look for on your journey to the top.

Let the others do what they are going to do…no one likes a bunch of rotten crabs anyway.

More Blogs

Featured Contributors

Vaccher is a publisher for, the site for Northwestern.
Dr. Marcy L. Street graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine.  She is a board-certified, Mayo Clinic-trained dermatologist, and w...
Byron Bullough is an 2014 MSU football recruit

Popular Articles

There are few health-related subjects more misunderstood than fasting. Today, fasting is little know...
The awareness about the importance of hearing is becoming a key component in making sound health cho...
No energy. Tired. Weak. Moody. Fat. Ugh.   Feeling chronically lethargic is no way to live one’s lif...

Popular Blogs

A young college graduate was having difficulty sitting through movies and each Sunday’s church servi...
Is Integrative Health simply adding complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to traditional west...
As a professional, the occurence of ethics (or lack there of) has popped up so frequently that it ha...