By Jim Whitt
A local company received a letter from a prospective customer: “Sirs…Could you please send me a catalogue and price list of your products, namely concrete tools and saws. Thank you for your time…Signed: Joe Bob Smith.”
The letter found its way into my hands via a friend who showed me the envelope it arrived in after I had read the letter. It was stamped: “THIS LETTER HAS BEEN MAILED FROM THE WISCONSIN PRISON SYSTEM.”
Do you remember how the old Dragnet series always ended? “The story you have just seen is true. The names were changed to protect the innocent.” Well, the story I just told you is true. I only changed the name. Say what you want about “Joe Bob” but you have to give him credit. He’s just not sitting around waiting for his big break. He’s doing something about it.
You may not be sharing a cell with Joe Bob but you might be incarcerated and not even realize it. You have probably seen a street mime who attempts to entertain people with his “I’m trapped in a glass cube” act. The mime knows he’s not trapped but acts as if he is. In your case, you don’t know you aren’t trapped but act as if you are.
Our glass cubes are invisible prison cells of our own making. We may not like our cells but can get so comfortable that the idea of leaving them can be very threatening. In my role as a consultant I am constantly challenging people to leave their invisible cells. My efforts are met with a myriad of reasons why they can’t. The number one reason I typically get is I don’t have time. Usually, I don’t have time really means: I don’t want to do this. I know I should but I’m comfortable doing what I’ve always done. It’s easier to continue to do what I’m doing than trying to figure out how to get out of this invisible cell. Please quit provoking me.
This pattern of behavior affects people from all walks of life. I know people who have great jobs, own businesses and make lots of money but who live in invisible prison cells. Their cells may be pretty comfortable — in fact, they are too comfortable — but they aren’t coming anywhere close to fulfilling their potential in life. This can affect entire organizations. I’ve worked with companies which are, in reality, invisible prisons. The people who work there have their own little invisible cells. Again, these organizations may appear to be doing pretty well but aren’t coming close to reaching their full potential.
Breaking out of these invisible prisons is an inside job. I help people and businesses do it all the time. In fact, I have an online catalogue of personal and organizational development tools that Joe Bob would drool over. You’ll find everything you need on this website — most of it is free — so take a look around. Don’t forget to check out the testimonial page. Oh, I even do work onsite. So, if you have a job that requires heavy lifting, give me a call.
Copyright © 2010 Jim Whitt Purpose Unlimited • 918.494.0009 • Permission to reprint: You may reprint this article in your own print or electronic newsletter, but please include the following: “Reprinted from the Purpose Unlimited E-Letter: For a free subscription, go to www.PurposeUnlimited.com.”