“Whenever one Crab tries to climb out of the Barrel, another Crab will, without fail, pull the escaping Crab back into the barrel. Every time. It never fails.”
Although Last place aversion is more commonly associated with economics, it can also be observed in the areas of individual productivity, and personal or professional success.
We all have others in our social networks who may be more or less successful in general terms than we are. Our challenge is to surround ourselves with those who have a genuine interest in our success, rather than those working under the constant fear of failing. Last place aversion suggests: “As long as there is someone who is not as well off or has less than I, then I am not in last place re: a failure.” This mindset is very similar to the sports team that doesn’t play to win, but rather just not to lose.
Success requires a winner’s mindset, not a non-losers way of thinking. The winner’s mindset is supported by familiarizing yourself with other ‘winners’ in my discipline or area of focus. I need to examine their tactics, and select those elements that contributed to their success…then integrate what works for me.
For example, when I was writing my first book The Quick Guide to Principles of Leadership I looked at a lot of methods for writing a book; outlining, mind mapping, posted notes, free association, etc. What I stumbled on that worked for me was to re-use some of my most popular blog posts and articles, re-worked them and blend them into a single work. I did that and have been very satisfied with my results.
Challenge: So what’s the Crab Analogy?
If you place one crab in a pot of water it may try to escape. But if you place two or more in the same pot, each time one is about to escape, another will reach up and pull it back into the pot. You can probably see some similarity between the Crab Analogy and Last place aversion.
The reality is that if you surround yourself with people who are not successful, not as ambitious, or not as disciplined as you are, it is inevitable that as you reach for success they will, consciously or not, follow the way of the crab. When you share your idea, proposal or project, here some indicators that you might be in the company of Crabs:
1) The Skeptical Belittler: Skepticism alone simply looks like analytic behavior, but when coupled with belittling comments such as, that will never work, why are you wasting your time, that’s already been tried, or you can’t make any money that way. Chances are good you’re in the company of a crab. Sadly, some people don’t even realize their crabs! They think they’re doing you a favor by helping you avert disaster and failure (to their way of thinking). And sadder still, many of these comments will come from family, close friends, and associates.
2) The Insulting Sage: Some will believe they’re imparting wisdom and sage advice with comments like, you’re on a fool’s errand, you’re crazy for even bothering with that, you’d have to be an idiot to waste time learning that. Depending on your level of maturity and self-confidence you may find it difficult to ignore the negativity. But if you can, you will prevail. Embrace the Inventor’s Phrase“I never lose. Either I win, or I learn.”
There are hundreds of examples of people who did not succumb to adversity and earned a spot in history, why not you?
3) The Patronizing Partner: More important to you than a friend or family are the opinions of your spouse of significant other. You would naturally expect them to have a vested interest in your success. However the difficulty rests in whether or not they can catch the vision you’re casting and see the potential you see, without the obstructions. Obviously your previous successes or failures will absolutely impact their perspective.
Rather than decline their support outright, they use a passive/aggressive patronizing language to convey their position. They don’t get it, or don’t see it, but if you want to waste your time, go ahead…who knows, you might be successful? This safe response from them is a covert crab response to you. It’s a middle of the road and non-committal. If you’re successful they can join in on taking credit, I knew you could do it, and if you’re not successful they can say, I told you so.
The next idea, interest, notion, project, or invention you decide to pursue either keep it to yourself, or ensure you only share it with your non-crab personal network! You will be simply amazed at how enthusiastic you feel, how motivated and empowered you become and how wildly successful you are! Embrace a corollary to the Inventor’s Phrase: “I never fail. Either I succeed, or I learn.”
Eugene Matthews