Growth and Development: Or, The Rabbi and the Lobster

Each month, the NAPO blog features a particular theme that helps to illuminate different aspects of the organizing and productivity profession. May’s focus is about personal growth and development. What does growth look like? How does it feel? What are the outcomes? What do we learn and how does it benefit us? Growth and development is a universal topic that can apply to individuals personally and professionally, businesses, organizations and even nations.

One of my favorite pieces on growth and development is a YouTube video I came across about a year ago. The interview was given by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski on “how a lobster grows.”  You may be asking, what’s the punchline? It almost sounds like a joke: “So there’s this rabbi and a lobster”… however, this short lecture is one that I have sent to colleagues and friends. I have shared it with family…I have even shared it repeatedly with my daughters who, as young women entering their teenage years, are starting to experience many types of growth.  Unfortunately, growth often causes discomfort.

Dr. Twerski talks about the lobster being a soft, squishy animal that lives inside a hard shell. It is protected, but stunted. The hard shell – its current state… its “normal” – actually prohibits its growth and development. As the animal grows inside the shell, it becomes squeezed, uncomfortable and stunted and finds itself under a tremendous amount of stress.

Personally and professionally, when we begin to feel stress, it is largely due to an uncomfortable situation in which we find ourselves. What causes that discomfort or stress?  Many times individuals or organizations believe stress is a result of external forces exerting pressure, when really the discomfort is a result of the individual’s, or organization’s growth that is being stunted. So how does an individual or organization alleviate discomfort? Does it stop growing? Become static? Being static leads to certain death. Lack of growth means that the rest of the world is changing while the individual or organization is not. Does it mask the stress? Masking stress only compounds it and makes it worse – procrastination is the enemy of growth and productivity.

Therefore, the lobster is forced to break out of its shell and expose its vulnerability to the world… and ultimately grow. Once the lobster is exposed and opens itself up to the newness around it, it is able to develop, become stronger and more resilient and grow a new, tougher outer shell. Similarly, individuals and organizations alike experience some stress during a period of growth. It forces an analysis of current situations and change.

The lobster analogy for growth and development is universal. It is applicable to individuals and organizations alike. Whether it is big or small, change can be difficult.  However, the inevitable reward for embracing change is incomparable. As the NAPO blog investigates the topics within this theme of “growth” it is a great opportunity to take a step back to identify areas of potential growth. Opportunities to develop and areas for improvement help the individual, the organization or even the nation, illuminate pathways to success.

Courtesy of Kahra Buss, Membership Communication Manager, NAPO

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One thought on “Growth and Development: Or, The Rabbi and the Lobster

  1. Thank-you for sharing the link and this great article. I posted the video to my FB page. Yep all about a growth mindset not that old fixed mindset!

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