The funny thing about crabs is you can stick them in a bucket without a lid and they stay there.
And if you grab one and try to pull it out, you can guarantee that at least one of the other crabs will come attached with it, trying to pull it back in.
And once upon a time I was stuck in the crab bucket myself.
Now before you say to yourself “Has Frank finally gone off his rocker?”, no I haven’t. Honestly. Not yet. Not this time.
We are all born in the crab bucket. A few of us manage to get out.
And in order for us to get out, we have to disentangle ourselves from all the other crabs trying to hold us in. Of course the other crabs are our friends and family, and they think they’re doing the right thing for us. Most of the time.
Let’s see now.
We’re born, we’re taught to be a good boy (or girl), we’re packed off to school where they teach us how to be good little work units, ideal fodder for the machine, we struggle to be “normal” (whatever that is) and the same as our peers, and then later we find ourselves stuck in a job, unable to substantially better ourselves or earn our freedom.
And all us crabs moan about our lot to each other, and nothing changes because none of us really want it to change.
Years go by and we have children of our own and we do the same damn thing to them.
All inside the crab bucket.
Our parents tell us crabby stuff, our teachers teach us to behave like better crabs – “Get good grades, go to University, get a good job!” – and all our friends are crabs too, so they just reinforce the crabby way of life.
It seems “normal” to do all the things that most other people do because everybody we know does them.
The horrible thing is, the only chance you might ever stand of learning anything different is when you’re growing up and you go to school… But… All the teachers know is what they’ve always done.
They don’t have any more of a clue as to what it might be like outside the crab bucket than any of us do. They’re too busy shaping the crabs of tomorrow and making sure they’re meeting their targets and ticking all the boxes.
And they certainly don’t know what to do with people who don’t respond to the system or don’t fit. When I was a kid I’ve even heard disparaging remarks from teachers to fellow students who said they were going to work in their dad’s business when they left school.
Not intentionally in most cases, but stuff like…
“But you’re bright. You could do so much better if you go to University and get a degree.”
I made a friend the day when one kid said – “What? And become a teacher? No thanks!” – and I burst out laughing. No-one else did.
I think I knew even then a regular job wasn’t for me, but I didn’t have a clue as to what would fit me better.
Along the way, some of us realise that we don’t actually fit the norm, and we start our own businesses with varying success. Many people go for trades like garden services, or carpentry, or electrics and some people do really well at it and expand, hiring staff as they go.
But to me, a job, even in your own business is still being stuck in the bucket with the rest of the crabs. It’s still the same old 9-5, but often extended to 8-7 instead.
The thing is, most of us think the same way and we don’t even know we’re doing it.
How would you feel if you knew that only 1 in 100 actually get out of the bucket? And that only 1 in 100 of them do really well at it?
That’s because nobody in the normal mainstream can teach us how to think differently, and we’re left to either work it out for ourselves, or stumble across someone who will show us the way. And seriously, there are a lot fewer of those who are competent enough and prepared to do it than you would think.
Most of that special breed of people won’t tell you what to do as they’re okay and they can’t be bothered to interrupt their own lives, and you never even hear about them. And those that will for a price usually can’t help you either.
But it’s not their fault, it’s yours. Take it with a pinch of salt when someone says it isn’t your fault.
You’re stuck in the crab bucket, and even though you might say you want to get out, the person that’s really holding you back is YOU.
You can’t blame anyone else for you being stuck in the bucket.
For a long time now I’ve said that if you want to know who’s responsible for all your problems, go look in the mirror. And if you’re thinking to yourself “Ah well, Frank, you don’t know my circumstances, it really isn’t my fault.” Then my answer to that is “WHO exactly is it living your life? “WHO is the puppet master controlling your every move, your every decision, your every circumstance?”
No-one. It’s your life and you get to make all the decisions…
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be seriously ill for two years, well more like four or five in total if you count recovery time.
While I was ill, I took the time out to closely examine my life to see what was wrong with it.
It was a pile of crabs.
What did I want? What did I REALLY want?
I wanted my freedom.
I wanted to be able to come and go pretty much as I please, and not be at the beck and call of a job and a boss.
I wanted to be able to earn enough money with little work so that I could enjoy things more. You know, smell the roses. Relax a bit. Not have to worry too much about things.
I thought I knew what to do.
It’s been a bit of a ride since then. I learned a lot along the way, and I’m nearly there.
You see, I still work. A lot of it is fun. (Work? Fun?)
I get lots of things wrong. I’ve learned I REALLY can’t stand whiners and any kind of negativity. I don’t finish stuff off properly because of the 80-20 rule which I apply – and I also get distracted.
The thing is, I really DO know what to do now.
But recently personal circumstances have been tearing me away from it all more and more. And the death of a distant cousin at 44, and the surprise triple heart bypass my dad just had sort of stops you and makes you think again.
(Yes it was a surprise for us all. He went in to have something called a stent fitted, and they did a triple bypass instead. It will probably give him back 5-10 years of vitality and he’ll probably live a lot longer too. It’s good news… And my dad being the huge footy fan that he is, what was the first thing he said when he came round from the anaesthetic and saw my mom?
“Has my season ticket come?”)
Anyway… It’s time for me to work very hard now. I know it won’t be easy to begin with, but it will get better, because I have a plan, and I KNOW what I’m doing.
I have to shuck off the work I’ve been doing myself. I’ll be putting in place more systems and processes, and hiring more people to do the stuff I never have the time to finish off properly. My final hire will be someone to manage it all for me, and I’ll train them myself personally.
Of course I won’t completely disappear.
I enjoy doing this too much to just walk away from it for good, but my personal circumstances mean I really have to be able to drop everything and walk away for days or weeks at a time. It can’t be helped.
While I was looking at all of this, reviewing everything and making these decisions, I realised that at both of these key periods in my journey I’ve been forced into doing it.
I knew what I really wanted, but wasn’t able to take that last little step and make it happen. I’ve been skirting around it.
See, I’m like most people. I was born a crab, but I realised that there was something better. Something that no-one could teach me, and I had to find it out for myself.
And in that respect we’re all different.
One hundred of us can learn the same stuff, but only one will make it work for them.
That’s because deep inside, most of us don’t really want things to change.
And I believe it’s only when we recognise our crabbiness for what it is and that we see our own limitations that we can finally decide what it is we really want, and that what we want is to get out of the bucket.
It starts by thinking differently to everyone else and seeing things from a different angle that works for YOU – and I’ll discuss this another time. (Different people do the same things differently, one way will NOT work for everybody.)
But once we’ve made that decision, the next thing we need is an ignition of some sort, a spark to get us to actually do something about it.
I firmly believe that the spark is already inside us, and all we have to do is look for and truly WANT to find it, and just like in my case, it will be there when we really need it.
All we have to do is give ourselves the deep down permission to do what it is we really want, and for most of us I think it’s to get out of the crab bucket.