Friday, March 20, 2009

Conflict & Crabs

I serve on several boards.  It is a joy of service and a belief in the obligation and ability of business owners to affect our communities that I do so.  What amazes me about the role I play is how by being vocal in a community for anything makes you a target for others.

One of the stories I heard growing up near a beach is the one about crabs in a bucket.  If you place several "scuttler" crabs in a bucket, they take a few minutes to understand the environment they are in, they fight a bit, then one gets the bright idea to get out of the bucket.  The other crabs rush over and pull it back down to the sand.  Why does this occur?  I am not sure of the biologist's reason, but the moral of the story from my parents was one about getting ahead - that many people we encounter will try to pull you back to the base level if you demonstrate you are "getting ahead."  This is especially true in the world of non-profits.  As you build emotional volume, more people both take notice and take note of how to target you.  I already knew this in the world of gay rights and advocacy, but I was surprised about how similar it is in advocating for business in a small town.  A friend and fellow board member shared some concerns yesterday with an op-ed piece I had written.  One which was highly critical of our City Council.  I left the conversation both concerned and a bit upset - she was critical of me and my use of first person when all the other pieces I had written were first person as well, but now I was "speaking for the Chamber."  Apparently quite a sin.  We will see what the repercussions of it are and how many people show up for the Council meeting on Monday night.

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