Monday, July 03, 2006

Crabs in a Bucket

You've probably heard how crabs in a bucket will grab any crab that tries to escape and pull him back into the bucket.

That vivid picture is often used to illustrate how some people, including ones who may be your friends, will try to discourage you if you try to break out of the norm or strive for a particular achievement.

How do they do it? There are several approaches:

By emphasizing the odds against success. This is always a potent argument because it is true. If you want to be a movie star or a novelist or a senator, the odds are not in your favor. They are, however, even worse if you don't try.

By distracting you with crises. If the other crabs can't dissuade you with logic, they may try emotion. An example of this is the parent who mysteriously gets ill when the child is about to leave town and establish independence.

By weakening your efforts. These are the school friends who push you to go out drinking when you should be studying, the relatives who demand time when an important project or deadline is looming, and the associate who just happens to omit your report from the packet that went to the boss.

By stressing perfection. This tactic is adopted by people who ostensibly support your efforts but their alliance is more of a restraint than a boost. In the role of the helpful observer, they keep poking holes and suggesting improvements so everything will be just right. What they don't reveal to you - possibly because it may be unclear to themselves - is things will never be "just right." They don't want to improve your efforts. They want to extinguish them.

If you have a dream, don't assume that you can share it. Your rise will be viewed by many as an indication of their decline. Some who are close to you may regard your success as a threat.

The "assistance" that you get from them will not be positive; indeed, it may be better described as veiled aggression.

No comments: