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What Crabs & Condors Can Teach Us About Confidence & Collaboration

Jan 24, 2022

The power of the pack, the triumph of the tribe, and the squarma of the squad!  That’s the magnitude of the unstoppable force known as ‘women supporting women.’  And squarma?  That’s a word mash-up meaning the good karma you earn while supporting your squad!  Empowered women empower women, and those of us who support, champion, and lift each other up, well, they are the ones you want in your tribe!

Sadly, not all women appreciate the value of the pack, understand the power of collaboration, or realize the detriment of trying to go it alone; or worse yet, in stepping on others along the way.  It’s not a zero-sum game out there — meaning that for one of us to win, another does not have to lose.  We can all win, and we’ll reach the victory line a heck of a lot faster by supporting each other.  To demonstrate, I’ll lean on an example provided by our friends in the animal kingdom. But before I go any further, let me ask you a very important question.  Would you rather be a crab or would you rather be a bird?  That is, a crusty, bottom-feeding crustacean or a beautiful, bright, bird who spreads her wings and continuously reaches new and exciting destinations?  A bird, you say?  Excellent!  Me too.  Let’s take a closer look.

Imagine a bucket with five or six crabs trapped inside.  They’re clawing their way around trying to devise a plan to escape.  After some time, one manages to streeeetch her claw all the way to the rim of the stainless-steel prison.  She continues to position herself and is inches away from freedom, from breaking through the barrier to the other side, to discover possibilities, infinite and unknown, when something atrocious happens.  Something unthinkable.  Something surely possible only in the wild world of animals.  You see, crabs, by nature, are extremely unsupportive of one another.  And so, as the dangling crab is just about to reach her goal, her thoughts of liberation are violently interrupted.  Another crab, one of her very own kind, sees her sister crab on the verge of a huge accomplishment. But rather than cheer her on and extend a claw to offer the final boost, she does something completely selfish and rather indicative of her own insecurities.  She waves her claw and exclaims to the other crabs, “Oh no, she didn’t!” and swiftly pulls her sister back to the bottom of the bucket.  The agony of defeat washes over the poor crab who had worked so hard and was right there on the precipice of making her dreams come true. 

On a lighter note (literally), let’s shift our focus to a bird, gracefully flying through the sky.  The bird’s viewpoint regarding collaboration is much different than the crab’s.  She understands that in order to spread her wings and fly, she must expend a certain amount of energy.  She’s a hard worker and is happy to put in the effort.  She’s assured of herself, confident in her abilities, and happy to show others who might be flailing just how it’s done.  In fact, supporting others is so compelling to her that she spells out a ‘V’ for victory on a regular basis as she flies in formation with her flock.  Scientific evidence shows that the reason birds fly in formation is not so they have someone to talk to on long flights, but rather, to provide uplifting support for each other.  So much so, that the bird in the front provides uplift to the one behind it and TOGETHER they increase their range by up to a measurable 70%.  That’s right, 70%!  They fly remarkably farther and faster when they work together.  Everyone wins when wings are enlisted over claws. 

Thankfully, as women, we have the free will to choose whether we accessorize with claws or with wings.  With wings, we too can provide uplift to another.  We can offer inspiring , encouraging words.  We can champion a woman who is up for a promotion.  We can offer another support while she is working on a special project or starting her own business.  In a meeting we can be the catalyst for a woman who is shy and too timid to speak up.  We can speak up ourselves and invite her to verbalize her thoughts by saying something like, “Courtney, will you share with the group what you told me earlier?  Your idea was brilliant. I know everyone will want to hear it.” 

We demonstrate excellent leadership characteristics by recognizing another’s strengths.  And in doing so, we validate our own healthy confidence and self-esteem. Confident, empowered women are secure in themselves, and thus have no trouble providing uplift for others to fly alongside them.

If you find yourself feeling more crabby than chirpy, now is a good time for a self-check. Ask yourself why.  Is there an area where you are struggling or feeling insecure?  Are there any weaknesses you need to address so they do not prevent you from you moving forward? The sooner you can identify what’s holding you back,  the sooner you can work toward strengthening yourself and building your confidence so that you too can ascend like a bird, rather than stay stuck at the bottom of a dingy bucket.

So what’ll it be?  A crunchy, crusty, crabby crab, just clawing her way around and contending with those around her?  Or an elegant, intelligent, empowered condor, who is confident in her skills and appreciates the value of collaboration over cattiness.  I’d rather coast with the condors than claw around with the crabs any day.  Sure, we can fly as individual women. But together we are stronger.  We are faster. And we can go farther.  Together, we can SOAR.  Here’s to seeing you in the friendly skies, ladies! 

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Originally published May 12, 2020 

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