The Inspiration Nation

July 25, 2007

Lessons from crabs about why we must be vulnerable

Filed under: Fear Busting, Personal Development — tshombe @ 12:45 am

What do crabs know that we humans have trouble understanding?

What?  Have no idea?

Neither did I, until Dov Baron explained this phenomenon.  The blunt truth is that crabs willingly make themselves vulnerable in order to grow.

It’s a strange paradox that many of us have difficulty — some are openly resistant to even the idea — allowing ourselves to be vulnerable when we may cognitively know that growth (both personally and professionally) requires the courage to be vulnerable.

And the common crab can teach us a thing or two about the value of embracing risk and vulnerability in the interests of growth.

What I didn’t know about crabs (that once mentioned to me I see as plainly obvious) is that their skeleton (called an exoskeleton) is on the outside of their bodies.  It is hard and inflexible, and it’s main function is protection.  For example, if a bird or other like predator pecks at or attacks the crab, the crab’s exoskeleton serves as armor, as a barrier from and against the blows.

This same structure, because of its inflexibility, also (ironically) becomes a ceiling for growth and development of the organism.

The crab intuitively knows that, in order to grow, it must back out of its shell.  Tthis is what the crab, in fact, does.

The process of shedding the exoskeleton is called molting.  As reported by Brian Handwerk of National Geographic News,  "They pump themselves up and inflate their gut, and that increased pressure will cause the old outer skeleton to crack, so that the crab can back out of it."

The only problem is, now without a protective skeleton, the crab is open to attack; it is now vulnerable.  However, if it were to remain within it’s restrictive shell, it would suffocate.

So it is with us.

We’re trained (particularly men) that vulnerability is the ultimate death, that it will pierce the heart, leaving us disgraced and pitiful.

But, what if you were to outgrow your armor?  What could you do, have, or be if you refused to suffocate in your protective shell?

When you decide to live your life authentically and honestly by discarding your exoskeleton, you are indeed more open to attack.  At the same time, however, it’s simply not possible to grow and become all you are meant to be by staying where you are.

What might you be holding onto (in the name of protection or self-preservation) that may be keeping you from realizing your dreams?

What might be wonderful about letting that go?



July 17, 2007

Compare yourself to yourself, not to anyone else

Filed under: Personal Development — tshombe @ 5:00 am

I was working a wedding the other day and joined a conversation between one of the servers and a guest of the wedding. The server is a musician who writes lyrics, sings and plays guitar.

They were talking about different styles of music they enjoyed, and the guest mentioned that he also played the guitar.

"So, you¹re a musician, too!" I remarked.

"Oh, no.  I¹m not a real musician.  I just play for fun; I’m not that good."

"Compared to who?" I asked.  "You play music, so you are a real musician.  You’re great when you compare yourself to you!"

Can you relate? So often people get caught up in measuring themselves against the accomplishments and status of others.  In life, to whom are you trying to compare?

I stumbled upon the following quote that reminded me of this experience with the wedding guest.  Simon Travaglia advises, "Don’t borrow someone else’s spectacles to view yourself with."

So true.  To go down that road is definitely not the path of inspiration.

I don’t play guitar, but if I began taking lessons and started to compare myself with Eddie Van Halen or BB King or Jimi Hendrix or any of the great guitar masters, I’d be pretty darn depressed all the time.

On the other hand, I can be the best me that I can be in whatever it is I choose to pursue.  Comparing or measuring myself up to somebody else just doesn’t serve me.  The deal is, my growth is my growth, and as long as I’m committed
to growing, I can never go wrong.

Wouldn’t you agree?

We all have our own uniqueness and our own gifts to share with the world…which reminds me of yet another quote.  This one Dov Baron shared with me (the message of which is related to Travaglia¹s quote).  It’s by Albert Einstein:

"Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

What do you think of that?

Rather than running around trying to be the best somebody else, — or said another way, trying to climb a tree when you’re a fish ­ embrace your unique gifts that make you you.

Be committed to your own growth and be proud of what you’ve done and where you’ve come.  That’s the path to true joy and true inspiration.

July 14, 2007

Learning from the past by moving toward becoming unconsciously conscious

Filed under: Personal Development — tshombe @ 4:00 am

Sometimes I’m a little hardheaded.  Can you relate?

I guess we’re creatures of habit, so it’s when I think I’ve learned a lesson that I need to be the most cautious.  Portia Nelson (finally, as you’ll see) learned this.

Maybe you know this poem already?  I thank Dov Baron for sharing it with me.  The poem itself is from Portia Nelson’s book There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street.
There is a hole.
I don’t see it.
I fall in.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes a very long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is still a deep hole.
I pretend not to see it.
I fall in.
I pretend it’s still not my fault.
It takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is still the same deep hole.
I see it.
I fall in anyway.
It’s a habit.
I get out quicker this time.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole.
I see it.
I walk around it.
I don’t fall in.

I walk down a different street.

What a journey of discovery!

Sometimes it takes several attempts to actually learn from our mistakes and take positive steps toward change and walk down a different street.  It is the awareness of this tendency that can move us forward, because, as Dov puts it "You don’t know what you don’t know."

In fact, Dov offers an alternative yet complementary way of looking at Portia Nelson’s different stages.  This is in keeping with his life/work mission, which is to help raise the individual and collective consciousness of the world.

Dov offers six stages.  They are:

  1. Unconsciously unconscious (This is the "You don’t know what you don’t know" stage)
  2. Consciously unconscious (The stage where you begin to know that you don’t know)
  3. Consciously post-conscious (You know, but only after you’ve done it, whatever "it" is)
  4. Conscious (You know your doing it as you’re doing it)
  5. Pre-conscious (You know you’re going to do it and you still might do it)
  6. Unconsciously conscious (What you do you don’t have to think about it)

Of course, we are all working in different stages in different areas of life all the time.  It’s a process of self-development as we increase our awareness of both postiive and negative patterns and raise our level of consciousness.

So, in which stage do you see yourself?  How and in what ways are you moving yourself up the consciousness scale?



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