Hello Leader,

Are you prepared for success?

If you are like me you invest effort, thinking and resources toward building 'Plan B' contingencies for setback scenarios. In this Key I use "The Shawshank Insight" to reflect on the fear of attainment and to ask: Are you preparing for success?

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Aviv Shahar

Prepare For Success - The Shawshank Insight

For many, the one fear more crippling than the fear of failure is the fear of success. A setback will require someone to take responsibility--remediate and resolve the challenges it brings and extract learning. Success, on the other hand, needs a responsible party to not curtail it and to fully realize and express its potential.

A few movies stay with me forever because of the perennial teaching they offer. The best of them represent a metaphor for the human condition. If you watched "The Shawshank Redemption" with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman you probably realized the story provides an insightful allegory for the human condition. While most people in prison just dream about one day being on the outside, Tim Robbins' character, Andy Dufrese, actually does something about it. He digs his tunnel to freedom for more than 20 years but doesn't stop there. He moves the warden's money to a fictional third-person account and creates a plan for his freedom.

Now, there are other characters who hope to be free one day, but they make no plans or preparations for what they will do once they are out. The movie shows us the prison librarian who is released after serving many years. Once he is outside the prison he is totally lost. He demonstrates the agony of walking into freedom without being prepared for it. Finally, he can take it no more. He takes his own life.

As the character played by Morgan Freeman called "Red" says: "I don't think I can make it on the outside. These walls are funny. First you hate them; then you get used to them. Enough time passes and you depend on them."

Are you afraid of Freedom?
The Shawshank Redemption is a parable on the human condition. People are afraid of freedom and are not prepared to take responsibility for it. Indeed, many prefer the comfort of knowing their own prison or what they perceive to be the limits of their self-constructed walls. Prisons can come in many forms, such as work, home, health conditions and relationships. We create prisons when we settle for unneeded limitations without doing something to breakout from our locked situation.

Here are some of the unnecessary prison forms people take upon themselves:

  1. Settling for compromised health conditions instead of doing something proactively
  2. Oppressive dynamic in the workplace
  3. Environnemental compromise (noise or air pollution, etc.)
  4. Resentful relationships and loss of warmth and intimacy

Many such conditions and situations in life are taken as a given and are rationalized by a victim-mindset as inevitable, inescapable and unbreakable. Like the Shawshank prisoners, unless we are prepared to take responsibility for our opportunities, talent and passion we are unable to live a free life.

It turns out that for many people the known and "secured" prison can be a lot more comforting then the vastness of unknown freedom. The prospect of self-empowered freedom and of having to take responsibility for your talent and opportunities is just too scary.

Such is the paradox of living: being born into life is being allowed to come into the theater of possibilities. And yet so many find it easier to negate their own power and deny their greater possibility. They refuse to prepare for success.

Now it's your turn. Turn the Key. Prepare for success, not just for challenges. Know that the resilient power inside you is 1000 times greater than you imagine. Your life here on Earth is purposeful. You are here to create new futures for you and your people. Your purpose is resilient. It awaits your rediscovery and renewal.

Making Time "Elastic" at Work

© Aviv Shahar