How do lobsters grow?

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“Hard things are hard”. The well-known Democrat campaign strategist David Axelrod gave a plaque with this message to President Obama after uttering these words during the fight to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010. I was listening to a podcast -Pod save America-, where the podcasters were sharing this story. It is a simple and obvious truth, but in a world of instant gratification, in a world of frictionless and hassle-free, it is often easy to overlook that hard things … euh … are hard. That as such is not so much of a problem, but it feels more and more people are avoiding the hard things. Are avoiding discomfort, uncomfortable situations. It pays off to embrace the s*ck from time to time. And there the story of how do lobsters grow comes in.

I stumbled upon this great analogy courtesy of Abraham Twerski that talks about how embracing a difficult situation (in the lobsters’ case, being stuck in its shell because of its growth) is not the moment to wine and go to the doctor, but the moment to shed the shell and get a bigger one.

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“The lobster’s a soft mushy animal that lives inside of a rigid shell. That rigid shell does not expand.

Well, how can the lobster grow? Well, as the lobster grows, that shell becomes very confining, and the lobster feels itself under pressure and uncomfortable. It goes under a rock formation to protect itself from predatory fish, casts off the shell, and produces a new one. Well, eventually, that shell becomes very uncomfortable as it grows. Back under the rocks. The lobster repeats this numerous times.

The stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that it feels uncomfortable. Now, if lobsters had doctors, they would never grow because as soon as the lobster feels uncomfortable, goes to the doctor, gets a Valium, gets a Percocet, feels fine, never casts off his shell.

I think that we have to realize that times of stress are also times that are signals for growth, and if we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity.”

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