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?