Think of an imaginary game called prison cell-hopping. The idea here is simple. You are in any imaginary prison cell. You don’t like it, but after some time you get used to it. Not that you are happy there, but you can tolerate the stay there.
Someone around you teaches a game called prison cell-hopping. It is a lame game, but they make it look like super fun. The rules are simple — you leave your prison cell and move into another prison cell temporarily. When it comes to inconvenience, this prison cell is no different than the previous prison cell, but there is a difference and that is — this prison cell is different. But the “being different” difference won’t cut it for too long.
So, what do you do?
You engage in one more edition of prison cell-hopping.
What happens there?
History repeats. You are happy at the beginning for a short while, get back to the default mode very soon and then what do you do..
Yes, you got it — engage in prison cell-hopping again.
Then, one day it dawns on you that prison cell-hopping is not taking you out of the prison, it is just taking you to another cell in the same prison.
It’s a wake up call.
I know you are glad that it’s a fictional story.
Before you celebrate, just think again.
You may be one of those people who are engaged in prison cell-hopping, only difference is that you are just playing this game within your head.
Let me explain.
Whenever you start worrying about things that you have no control of, you are in a prison cell.
Whenever you are unhappy that someone else did not change, you are in a prison cell
Whenever you are jealous that someone else got ahead, you are in a prison cell
Whenever you wish to get ahead without getting your hands dirty, you are in a prison cell
Whenever you crave for a prize without paying the price, you are in a prison cell
When you claim credit fo someone’s work, you are in a prison cell
When you don’t show gratitude for the gifts of goodness, you are in a prison cell
When you use fear as an excuse for inaction, you are in a prison cell
When you deliver mediocre work with any excuse, you are in a prison cell
When you let you ego stop you from learning, you are in a prison cell.
I can go on and on..but you get an idea.
Observe the above and you will notice that none of the items have any upside, but all of them have variety of downsides.
If you engage in the game of prison cell-hopping, you experience an internal change of environment, but it is a phantom relief because all you did is to go from one meaningless prison cell to another one.
If you want to escape from this dangerous game, you need to raise your self-awareness. It can be triggered something you read or by someone you trust when either of them shake you up to wake you up from a self-induced intellectual coma.
The key is to notice the clues that will be in plenty. A clue typically manifests itself in the form of capacity depletion to delay getting things done. It may manifest itself in the form of a goal post shifting further away from you. It might also appear in the from of frustration because you are putting in the effort, but results seem to be meaningless.
Having maturity means to have the able to notice and acknowledge the clues objectively and not dismiss them because you are clouded by your emotions.
You will pay a big price if you continue to play the prison cell-hopping game. During a crisis, you will pay even more because you need ALL of your capacity to deal with the crisis — there is no time or capacity to waste. It is urgent for you to escape from playing the prison cell-hopping game.
This is a chapter from my upcoming book “SIX FOOT WORLD: How to reimagine the future in disruptive times”
The book is all about how to make sense of what is happening in the world because of COVID-19 and what we can do increase the odds of not just surviving, but thriving in the new reality.
You can read more about the book here: