Improving your leadership skills starts with the right mindset – and posture.
Unless you’ve been living at the bottom of the ocean for the last couple of months, there’s a big chance you have heard about the new bestseller that remains unbeaten at the top of Amazon book charts.
Yes, we’re talking about 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson.
A book that started as a Quora answer in the form of a 42 set of rules on how to live a better life is now trending – and there are plenty reasons why. Jordan, who’s a renowned psychologist and a social scientist, shares his insights as a clinical psychologist after years of effective clinical practice.
And the first rule in his book is about lobsters.
Yes, you read that right. Jordan starts by explaining how similar we are in comparison to lobsters in terms of social behavior. While the idea sounds fishy (sorry, couldn’t help it), it is based on scientific insight. Lobsters have been around for millions of years now (350 million to be exact) and natural selection has taught them a vital rule for survival.
Winners stand straight.
Posture can define your mood
Lobsters are territorial animals and they are always on the lookout for the best protection to make a home. They can’t stand competition for their territory and they won’t back down in a fight when they feel threatened (sometimes these conflicts are to the death).
In a way, business resembles the lobster world. The competition is fierce. Hierarchy is well established and it seems like winners are always winning, while the losers, well, just keep on losing.
When You Lose — You Hunch, Just Like Lobsters
Turns out our nervous system and neural pathways are similar to those of lobsters and neuroscientists have made significant progress understanding the way our brains work by studying how lobsters are wired.
When a lobster loses a confrontation to a more dominant lobster, they hunch and can sulk for days. Their serotonin levels decrease to an extent where it becomes almost impossible to complete daily tasks, just like depression with humans. The losing lobster then begins to accept his new lower social status which, in turn, changes the other lobsters’ perception of him, and he begins to back down more frequently than he did previously when he thought he was a winner.
Conversely, the winner has increased serotonin levels and struts his stuff. He gets challenged less frequently because his posture indicates he is a winner. He gains more social stature and success literally breeds success because he is also more attractive to female lobsters!
Back on dry land, in business and in life, every defeat is a new chance for us to stand straight and move forward or to hunch and retreat. Our posture has a great deal to do with how we see ourselves and how the world sees us. There’s an actual, physical response that comes with a hunched posture just like we can feel happier just by faking a smile.
So, if you feel defeated and you go around looking that way – with your shoulders slumped and downcast eyes – your serotonin levels can decrease, just like it does with that defeated lobster.
And if you perceive yourself as vulnerable, you’re less resilient. Small things can feel bigger than they are. And things get way worse when you add the social responsibility of others to the equation. Competitors won’t hesitate to take your business if they sense weakness.
Are you starting to lift those shoulders? Good!
How lobsters teach us about leadership
In the lobster world, everyone defers to the winning lobster; the way he presents himself to the world is an example to lobsters everywhere that he’s successful.
And standing up straight is one of the best life hacks you can make for yourself and we naturally gravitate towards people that do this.
Think of someone like this that you know.
Sure, she might not be the strongest of them all, but she doesn’t need to be. She’s confident, with resolute steps and decisions and she has the poise of a winner. She might be wrong from time to time, but she also has the mindset to reflect on her mistakes and adjust as needed.
She’s gained trust in her capabilities and she is already or is becoming a leader – and no one questions that statement because it is evident in how she is perceived in the world.
The Real Power Of Standing Straight
Many have claimed that the idea of the lobster leader isn’t just comical but useless.
“People can stand straight but that won’t change the facts. A bullied kid will still be bullied even when he stands straight against his bullies.”
Indeed. Standing straight isn’t enough to change every situation and it would be quite naïve to think that. The thing is this – the kid who decides to stand straight after being bullied has taken a brave step toward his growth. He’s not powerless nor static. He has a will.
This is what differentiates us from lobsters. They lack the rational development that we humans have managed to achieve. We can overcome defeat if we choose to do so.
Standing straight is the first step. It’s a decision to face the difficulties of life. It’s a choice that one takes on their way to becoming a leader in the face of adversity and challenge.
Do you want to become a leader?
Start by looking the part – stand straight, shoulders aligned, face up and eyes wide open. Set a goal and pursue it. Accept setbacks as the price of moving forward and, if there’s a change to be made, it starts and ends with you.
There’s a big difference between lobsters and humans, and it isn’t about claws, funny eyes or an aversion to drawn butter. Lobsters are out for themselves; humans won’t hesitate to help others reach their goals. We understand the value of a win-win situation and we have a thing for helping others. Lobsters might resort to the hunch strategy for life, but humans have free will and we also have coaches and, if needed, psychologists and other professionals to help us out of the losing bottom.
If you want to improve your leadership skills or those of your employees, you can trust Chris Gossard’s coaching skills to help you become a confident and memorable leader. His combination of business leadership and coaching experience has helped many clients transform themselves into exceptional people both at work and at home.
Stand straight and contact Chris today. Who knows, you might be top lobster one day!