Saturday, 21 July 2018

C Columns

Challenging Faith: More Thoughts on 'Black Crab Syndrome'

 By Joel Lund

 

In  our  last  column  (Jan/Feb  2018),  we  looked  at  how  much  people  can  behave  like  “black  crabs.”  (NOTE:  the  color  of  the  crab  isn’t  the  point,  but  the  behavior  is.)  Crabs,  once  they  are  tossed  into  a  bucket,  will  routinely  drag  an  escaping  crab  back  into  the  bucket  with  the  rest  of  the  captives.  

Apparently  for  crabs,  it  really  is  preferable  to  be  miserable  in  the  company  of  others.  And  so  it is,  too  often,  true  for  people.  Therefore  it  is  important  to  be  mindful  of  who  we  surround  ourselves  with.  Are  they  eager  to  lift  us  up  —  like  an  escaping  crab  —  or  happy  to  have  us  share in  their  misery?  

The  bad  news  is  that  this  behavior  is  very  common.  The  great  news,  however,  is  that  we  can  choose  to  leave.

Today,  let’s  look  at  what  making  the  choice  to  leave  the  bucket  can  mean.

There  Be  Trolls

My  paternal  grandmother  grew  up  in  rural  Norway.  It  was  common  for  people  of  that  era  to  believe  that  trolls  lay  hiding  under  the  bridges  that  connected  nearby  farms.  Grandma  not  only  believed  this  was  true,  she  claimed  to  have  seen  one.  Even  though  she  was  only  5  feet  tall,  she  was  a  force  of  nature,  so  I  chose  to  remain  silent  on  the  matter.

What  Grandma  didn’t  live  to  see  is  the  form  trolls  have  taken  on  in  our  era.  Social  media  has  empowered  unhappy  people  to  behave  like  trolls,  ruthlessly  tearing  at  others  just  as  captured  crabs  do.  That’s  why  they’re  called  online  “trolls.”

Often,  their  intent  is  clear  enough.  But  sometimes  it  is  veiled.  In  a  way,  just  as  one  crab  might  latch  onto  the  crab  actually  restraining  an  escapee,  some  people  will  deliver  their  hostility  and  harm  in  a  way  designed  to  seem  helpful.

Especially  when  their  objective  is  to  put  others  in  their  place.  And,  most  regrettably,  this  is  just  as  true  for  believers  as  for  non-believers.

Please  Fasten  Your  Seatbelts...

Smart  businesses  routinely  use  surveys  to  obtain  feedback  and  learn  what’s  working  with  their audience  and  what’s  not.  Otherwise,  all  of  the  company’s  efforts  could  be  misfiring,  resting  on  a foundation  of  “hopium.”

So,  trying  to  be  smart  about  growing  our  business,  a  few  years  ago  we  sent  out  a  survey  to  friends  and  clients  of  our  business.  We  waited  for  a  notification  that  people  were  taking  the  survey.  No  alert  came.  We  finally  realized  that  because  we  used  the  free  version  of  an  online  survey  tool,  we  wouldn’t  receive  alerts  when  people  used  it.  So  I  logged  onto  our  account  to  see  if  anyone  had.

Sure  enough,  people  had.  Yay!  Really  good  feedback  and  engagement  greeted  me.  Skimming  through  the  graphical  analysis,  my  eye  was  drawn  to  the  bottom  of  the  page,  to  the  comment  section.  One  person  had  opted  to  leave  a  comment  and  titled  it,  “May  God  continue  to  bless  your efforts!”

Except  that’s  not  what  they  meant.  At.  All.

It’s  going  to  be  a  bumpy  ride.

If  you’d  like  to  read  the  full  story,  you  can  find  it  here: bit.ly/Crampires. For  the  purposes  of  our  discussion  today,  I  want  to  focus  on  the  manner  in  which  the  people  around  you  —  READ:  the  family  members  and  friends  you  choose  to  spend  most  of  your  time  with  —  may  be  holding  you  back  from  fulfilling  the  purpose  God  has  called  you  to.

The  5  Ways  that  Black  Crabs,  Vampires  and  Bullies  Try  to  Kill  Your  Purpose

1.  They  presume  to  know  what  they  are  talking  about  and  to  possess  godlike  knowledge...of  what's  best  for  you.

2.  They  feel  entitled  to  tell  you  whatever  is  on  their  mind.

3.  They  tear  you  down  with  words  only  intended  to  inflict  the  most  damage,  not  to  enlighten  you.

4.  They  pretend  to  care  about  you  so  much  that...they  “couldn’t  not  tell  you.”

5.  They  sanctify  their  hostility  by  bringing  God  onto  their  side.

Not  a  fun  list,  I  admit.  And  the  chances  are  as  you  read  the  list,  someone’s  face  came  to  your  mind’s  eye.  For  that,  I  apologize.

As  I  wrote  in  “Black  Crab  Syndrome,  Part  1,

”...we  all  have  “black  crabs”  in  our  lives.  Because  all  of  us  have  people  who  negatively  influence  our  performance,  intentionally  inhibit  our  attempts  at  success  or  actively  impede  our  enthusiasm.  These  people  can  be  family,  friends,  or  coworkers.  For  many  of  us,  we  have  all  three  types  pulling  at  us,  with  pinchers  snapping  disagreeably.  If  not  worse."

But  if  we  don’t  recognize  these  behaviors  for  what  they  are,  then  we  can’t  identify  those  folks  in  our  world  who  are  not  helping  us.  This  is  especially  true  with  family  members  and  close  friends.  Because  of  our  shared  experiences  with  friends,  likely  over  many  years  or  decades,  our  tendency  is  to  give  them  a  pass.  In  the  case  of  family,  we  will  almost  certainly  feel  conflicted  when  we  realize  that  some  of  them  may  actually  be  a  force  against  our  living  out  our  purpose.  

What  then?  Can  we  break  away  from  family?  Should  we?  Is  that  even  right?

Maintenance  To  Aisle  7!  There’s  Been  A  Spill.

Yes,  we  can  break  away  from  family.  And  yes,  it  is  right  to  do  so.  We  are  called  to  do  so,  in  fact,  if  for  no  other  reason  than  to  create  a  new,  independent  person  or  family  unit  (Gen.  2:24).  

But  there  are  other  reasons.  Each  of  us  is  gifted  by  God.  Each  of  us  is  unique.  One  of  a  kind.  Treasured.  Bearing  the  fingerprints  of  our  Maker  (Romans  11:29,  12:6;  1  Cor.  12:4).

How  are  we  to  live  out  our  purpose,  using  our  gifts,  following  where  God  leads  us,  if  we  allow  our  family  or  friends  to  inhibit  us?  To  pull  us  back  into  their  crab  pot?

This  ultimately  leads  us  to  an  increasingly  imperative  question,  living  in  the  age  of  social  media  trolls:  Whose  voice  will  we  follow?

All  people  are  naturally  fearful.  Our  fears  repeatedly  create  messes  of  our  lives,  because  when we’re  in  a  state  of  fear,  our  decision  tree  is  reduced  to  two  choices:  fight  or  flight.  We  feel  vulnerable.  Insecure.  Ill-equipped.  We  hold  back.  We  turn  away.  

So  to  pursue  our  purpose,  we  must  surround  ourselves  with  like-minded  people,  living  out  their  purpose,  and  daring  greatly.

One  of  my  favorite  authors  addresses  why  this  is  so  essential:

...there’s  nothing  that  makes  us  feel  more  threatened  and  more  incited  to  attack  and  shame  people  than  to  see  someone  daring  greatly.  Someone  else’s  daring  provides  an  uncomfortable  mirror  that  reflects  back  our  own  fears  about  showing  up,  creating,  and  letting  ourselves  be  seen.  That’s  why  we  come  out  swinging.  When  we  see  cruelty  [from  others],  vulnerability  is  likely  to  be  the  driver.  When  I  say  criticism,  I  don’t  mean  productive  feedback,  debate,  and  disagreement  over  the  value  or  importance  of  a  contribution.  I’m  talking  about  put-downs,  personal  attacks,  and  unsubstantiated  claims  about  our  motivations  and  intentions.  —  Brené  Brown,  “Daring  Greatly”

All  people  are  capable  of  feeling  threatened,  incited  to  attack  and  shame  others,  intent  on  dragging  them  back  into  our  bucket  of  fears.  Because  we  want  company,  even  if  it’s  miserable  company.  So  when  we’re  not  intentionally  seeking  out  purpose-driven  people  to  spend  our  time  with,  it  is  a  forgone  conclusion  that  we’re  in  the  company  of  trolls.

Be  Set  Free

So  do  not  fear,  for  I  am  with  you;  do  not  be  dismayed,  for  I  am  your  God.  I  will  strengthen  you  and  help  you;  I  will  uphold  you  with  my  righteous  right  hand.  —  Isaiah  41:10

Dare  greatly.  Live  your  purpose.  Be  the  person  you  are  called  to  be.

Joel  Lund  is  a  certified  master  coach  and  business  marketing  expert.  Are  you  a  business  owner?  Check  out  his  newest  enterprise, PurposeDrivenAcademy.com, an  online  business  accelerator.  Owners  and  entrepreneurs  using  the  academy  quickly  break  through  to  higher  revenues,  with  less  work  and  more  fun.  Download  his  (free)  simple  10-step  guide  for  living  with  more  purpose  and  joy: www.prepareforrain.com/ebook.

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