By Jonathan Tait, D.O.

Most of us will be returning to our regular routines this week after enjoying the holidays the past several weeks.  Hopefully you have gotten some much-needed lighter workweeks and more time with family and friends.

Today, to start the first full week of the year, I wanted to get you thinking about the mindset with which you will approach this New Year – as tis the season for making some resolutions. There is a particular story stuck in my head, told to me by one of my very first business mentors and now friend, that should get you thinking about the company you keep and how they might impact your ability to achieve those resolutions.

On a trip he and his wife took to Alaska they were standing on a wharf watching fisherman haul in all forms of sea-life by line, trap, or cage.  While strolling leisurely down the dock a man was emptying a trap full of crabs into a bucket. As they came closer, the man was preparing the trap to release back into the depths of the ocean to haul in the next catch.

Looking into the large bucket, they saw a tangled mess of legs and pincers, crabs clawing and climbing over one another in haphazard chaos, apparently trying to escape their confines. Watching a bit longer, one crab had skillfully climbed on top of the other crabs towards the rim of the bucket and had reached one claw over the top. Fearing this crab was about to make a jailbreak, my friend alerted the craggy old fisherman whose back was turned to the bucket as he prepared the trap.

Without even the slightest turn, or even diverting his eyes from his work, he simply replied, “just watch what happens”.

As they turned their attention back to the bucket, the crab appeared to be in prime position to make the escape, now with both claws over the top of the bucket. However, just as it began to make the final pull up and over the top something unexpectedly happened. Instead of getting assistance from the crabs below with a much needed boost over the top towards freedom, they reached up and dragged their fellow crustacean back into the bucket of chaos – likely sealing his fate to end up at your local seafood restaurant.

When my mentor told me this story I was struggling personally and professionally, in large part I could now see through his story, because of the company I was surrounded by at the time.

What he told me next was exactly what I needed to hear precisely at that moment in my life.

Very simply he said, “You are that crab and it is time to get out of the [expletive] bucket!”

On the flight home from the conference we had both attended, the weight of that simple message really hit home. While the rest of the plane slept, I sat with the light above me for the rest of the trip. Literally and figuratively that day a light was turned on. I wrote some personal declarations in my journal that day that have become the foundation of how I live my life:

  • I will keep company only with those who push me forward in life, not those who hold me back.
  • I will surround myself with positive people (not crabs).
  • I will occupy my mind with positive thoughts
  • I will help people solve their problems instead of being part of a problem.
  • I will always add value to those in my life – friends, family, and patients.
  • I will get healthier and stronger, both mentally and physically, every day.
  • I will enjoy each and every day I have the opportunity to go to work and do what I love, no matter what life throws at me.

As we begin 2014, I challenge you to make your own personal declarations (or borrow some of mine), get out of the bucket of crabs, and make this your best year ever.

What I have also learned from my “crab whisperer” friend and mentor is that there are really only two reasons why you fail at anything in life:

  • The thoughts that occupy your mind
  • The people that you surround yourself with

Do not make it more complicated than that.

It is completely up to you to shape the thoughts in your mind.

Positive thoughts. Success thoughts. Healing thoughts. Personal and professional growth thoughts.

It is also completely up to you to choose the people you allow to be a part of your life.

Positive people. Successful people. Healthy and fit people. People who will challenge you to grow personally and professionally.

Take a minute now and write your personal declarations.

Forge the mindset you need for success.

Cut ties with the crabs in your life.

Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your resolutions this year.

Get out of the bucket!

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