GOOBers and GOOBstoppers

I was trying to get to the bottom of the claim that if you put crabs in a bucket and one tries to escape, the others will try to pull him back in.

I’ve heard the claim many times, but I wanted actual evidence.

Frankly, at first the proof on YouTube was unimpressive. Actual bucket videos were not as convincing as I had hoped.

But, there was one fascinating video of crab behavior that didn’t involve a bucket.

Instead it was a crab trap with a mounted camera to record the action.

Here’s the summary:

  • Crab enters the trap and finds the bait.
  • Crab collects bait and heads back toward the hole through which he entered.
  • A second crab has entered the trap. It grabs the first crab, presumably because he wants the bait.
  • More crabs arrive to participate in the ruckus.
  • The trap ends up loaded with crabs.

It was fascinating because I didn’t see any reason the crabs couldn’t leave the trap. Nothing in the mechanical design of the trap kept the crabs in.

They kept themselves inside by fussing and wrestling over the bait.

With that, I was convinced. Crabs really do try to hold others back if they’re on the brink of success. The “crabs in a bucket” thing is legitimate.

So, now as we shift from crab behavior to human behavior, I want to know who you are.

Are you somebody who tries to Get Out Of the Bucket (

Or are you somebody who tries to prevent the GOOBers from escaping? (A G.O.O.B.-stopper)?

It irritates me when I think back over different times of my life and recognize I was a Class A GOOBstopper. I tried to hold people back who wanted to go faster, or farther, or better. I criticized people who put in the time and effort to become exceptional at something.

Instead of using their excellence to motivate myself to improve too, I tried to slow them down. If they refused to be slowed, I would quit trying to win and start pretending the “game” was stupid. People who would put so much time and energy into excelling at THAT game were too dumb to know any better!

Shame on me.

I’ve come to realize the world is hostile to GOOBers. Think about all they have to battle:

  • The difficulty of actually excelling in their chosen area. (Hard enough when everything’s in their favor)
  • Their own doubts, fears, insecurities, and limited thinking that hinders excelling.
  • People who–sometimes intensely–discourage and prevent the pursuit of excellence.

The people who say things like “Who do you think you are?” to want to do better, get better, and strive for excellence. The ones who complain that you’re “showing them up” or “too competitive.”

Yes, there are times when it’s not appropriate to be competitive. But some people seem to think competition is an inherent evil and needs to be stomped out of everything. I disagree.

Colossians 3:23 helped solidify my thinking on this matter. It says “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”

That verse makes it sound like we’re supposed to be interested in giving our best. That we shouldn’t be content with a life of mediocrity. That if we can do and be better, we should get to work doing and being better.

I want the record to show that I’m for the GOOBers. So long as what you’re doing isn’t sinful, illegal, immoral, and so forth.

The crabs have been pulling you down long enough. Where do you go to find encouragement?

To your growth,

John Allan