Sunday, April 10, 2016

Crab vs Turtles

Crab Mentality
This is an experiment you can do to learn more about crabs.

In many markets, crabs are sold in an open bucket, and there is no need for any covers as the crabs do not escape.
Whenever a crab tries to climb out of the bucket, other crabs will pull it down when it gets close to escaping.
“I can’t have it, neither can you”
Crab mentality can manifest in many forms, and in many communities, they feel powerless and they get joy when they see others fail, and fear of failing prevents these communities from moving forward. There may be many problems that these communities face, but they do not work together to solve the problems.
Also known as Crabs in a bucket, this is the kind of mindset that some communities have to prevent them to moving forward. It is far more common than you think. In Singapore, there is a term called

“Kiasu” which is prevalent in Singaporeans.

“Kiasu” or “Fear of losing” is seen by some people as a positive thing. It makes Singapore a very competitive society, always trying to be the best in things. This mindset permeates through many differ organizations in Singapore. The Singapore government call it a meritocracy society, where the top students in schools are on full government scholarships and groomed to be leaders. And these leaders are paid many times the average salaries of average Singaporeans, and often placed in top positions in the government or government linked companies.
This mindset has worked in building Singapore the way it is, but it also creates a lot of stress as everyone is very competitive. For some Singaporeans, success also means others should fail. This is the definition of crab mentality and it fragments a society and there is low public trust.

Turtle mentality

Where crab mentality is not desirable, turtle mentality is positive (and adorable)
Baby turtles help each other dig out from a pile. The ones in the bottom push the ones on top upwards until everyone comes out. The process takes about an hour and no one was left behind.
I’ve also known many friends who own terrapins as pets and these turtles will find ways to help their friends escape if the cover of their aquarium is not closed property and they can reach it. Through teamwork, these turtles climb on each other and push the one closest to the top and help him escape.
Many communities have very close relationships and support one another. In Japan after the Tsunami, the survivors self-organize their cleanup and shop owners on the street gather every day to decide on which shops to clean up, allowing them to more efficiently clean the debris and mud than each shop owner cleaning their own store.
In Haiti, I’ve worked with Haiti partners and seen people in the village pooling money to send the children in their village to high school in Port-au-Prince. The people in the village also come together to apply scholarships for all the eligible children and pool money to send them to universities.
Working together allows the villagers to accomplish tasks which may be difficult if a family were to do it alone. There are many examples of farmer cooperatives set up in rural villages to pool resources for bulk purchase and negotiate sales.

When working with communities, it is important to find ways to change their mindsets. It is not just having a solution that matters, but how the change can be sustainable. If the community has crab mentality, the people you help may be pulled down again by others in the community and it is important to address the mindsets as well.

-- Robin Low

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