Ending Mediocrity – the Crab in the Bucket Syndrome

Ending Mediocrity – the Crab in the Bucket Syndrome

Misery loves misery. Statements about what you can’t do, about your inability to succeed, achieve and see the bigger opportunity/silver lining are really statements about the person who is making them. Not about you. Simply put, their negative filter is an out-picturing of their own ‘can’t’ experiences.

It’s Like Being a Crab in a Bucket

The Crab in the Bucket Syndrome is an important story for all of us who are seeking to grow beyond our limits.

In a bucket full of crabs, there is always at least one that is seeking its freedom. That one crab in the bucket climbs all the way to the top. Just as the crab is attempting to crawl out, one or more of the crabs at the bottom pull him/her down. This will continue happening, keeping all of the crabs trapped, until they reach their untimely demise.

People who are persisting in mediocrity are just like those crabs in the bucket.  They have a distaste for anyone around them making it to the top. The fear is that you will ‘call me’ on my mediocrity if you succeed.

Mediocrity relies upon a series of complicitous relationships. These relationships exist with a silent agreement…”I’ll look the other way when you are mediocre…if you’ll look the other way when I am mediocre.” This coexisting series of agreements creates an atmosphere where non-performance is tolerated as status quo.

In a company and/or a family this is cancerous. What it looks like is low-level delivery, things sliding, a lack of closure on important matters. If nothing really matters all that much, then nothing matters. It is important to take a close look at your managers and decision makers. They are the important example of who your company/family is becoming.

Should you hear and or see the Crab in the Bucket mentality…where mediocrity slips by unnoticed routinely, then it’s time to ask for a course correction. A symptom of this syndrome is a manager or family member who persists in telling people their limits. “I don’t think you can,” “I have doubts that this will ever work.” One person like this in a company who is an authority will set a low-level of performance in order that they don’t need to exert much energy or commitment.

Adopt the mantra: If nothing really matters all that much, then nothing matters. Tolerating the mediocrity is the same as tolerating a slow creeping cancer. Resolve to give awards to those people that uphold excellence and cultivate out people who maintain mediocrity.



Photo Credit: Joe Goldberg | Flickr. com


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