How Catching Crabs Is Like Building Your Team

Last week we were in Port-en-Bessin, in France on holiday and my son decided he wanted to catch some crabs on the beach, which largely consists of beautiful shells and stones.  So off he went with his sister – all excited to see the crabs, and as I was reading my book I looked up from time to time to see them peering into one rock pool or another.  Ah – to be a child again I thought – where it is all about adventure and catching crabs.  Until…..

10 minutes later they were back and having a right old moan about how there WERE no crabs, they hadn’t seen a single crab, and how disappointing the world was – or something along those lines.

So, I did what any parent would do – I talked to them about their reticular activating system.  If you have heard of the RAS, you will know it is like the switch in your brain which decides what you focus on.  Have you ever bought a new car – and then seen lots of the same car driving around when you are SURE there were none or very few before.  Well – that’s your RAS – noticing what you are focused on.

So – my kids were focused on the wrong thing – they were focused on NOT seeing any crabs.

Now – this is not a lesson in positive thinking – because positive thinking is not really what it is about.  Sure – positive thinking is better than negative thinking – in that it won’t depress you so much.  But let’s face it – if you are lost in the woods, positive thinking is not going to see you out of the woods.  No, you need a map or a sat nav for that one.  So, you might be happy about being in the woods, if you are thinking positively – but you will still be lost.

No – just thinking positive is not enough.  You also need to know exactly what you want to find (lots of crabs – as opposed to – There are no crabs).  And then – the magic ingredient – you need to take action.  “You see kids”, I said “it’s no good just wandering over to the rock pools and expecting the crabs to be there waving their big claws at you.  Crabs are loners, they are nervous, they like to hide in safe places.  If you want to see the crabs – you need to go looking for them where they are likely to be – you need to work at it, and turn over some shells and some stones.  And if at first, you don’t succeed – keep trying – cos as sure as eggs – there are crabs in them there hills”.

Or something like that anyway – you get the picture.

And it made me think – looking for crabs is a bit like wanting things to be better at work.  Let’s take for example your team.  Maybe you want better relationships between your team members and between YOU and your team members.  Well, you can SAY that is what you want and you can go stare in a few rock pools – but that’s not going to do very much.

If you really WANT better relationships / more productivity / better attention to detail / more sales – or any other work-related desire – you need to SAY IT, SET IT and ACTION IT.

So – you need to say it – you need to decide what it is that is your intention, clearly and without confusion.   You need to ‘set it’ – get that intention out there so that it is not just something you say to yourself but to everyone who needs to hear that.  It needs to be clear to everyone in your team that ‘better team relationships’ or “20% more productivity” is the goal.  You then need to ‘action it’ – as in – there needs to be some steps that you take to achieve this goal.  Positive (or wishful) thinking alone won’t do it.

So – if you want to improve the quality of your team’s relationships, or any other work related goal, and you are not sure how you are showing up to make this happen – then email me at [email protected] and we can help you find your crabs!



One thought on “How Catching Crabs Is Like Building Your Team

  1. Really like this Julie – excellent article – like one famous golfer said – the more I practice the luckier I get – to get great performance you have to work at it and that’s true for any team too – great insight.

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