Are You in Career Captivity?

bison-58161_1280It’s my goal to run at least 365 miles in 2015.  This morning was a beautiful day for a run.  I listened to the beginning of a new book by author Ken Davis called Fully Alive.  So far, the book is incredible. It’s challenging me to look into the areas of my life where I am asleep or not really living. I would highly recommend it.

Fully Alive: Lighten Up and Live – A Journey that Will Change Your Life

As I shuffled past the Buffalo Zoo, I looked into the cage where the Bison live.  My heart sunk. These majestic beasts created to roam the wild untamed prairies of the West, laid in the dusty cage in a sedentary haze. What happened to them? They had food and water and even medical care! They had some space to run around. Why did they seem like sleepy zombies?

1.They no longer have any RISK in their lives. Isn’t that a good thing? Risk is potentially harmful!

2. They are not responsible for their own survival. The pressure is off. They don’t have to do anything. Isn’t that the life everyone wants?

3. They’ve forgotten what freedom feels like. 

Human Example #1  I have a friend (who I’ll call Alex) who works from home for a large healthcare foosball-table-189846__180company. His employer has determined that it takes a certain number of hours to complete his work per day.  When he is logged into the system, they are able to track his progress to be sure the time is being spent to get the work done.  

Alex is a smart guy.  He has the skills to complete the work in only a fraction of the allotted time. He has determined that if he finishes too quickly, the company may give him more work without increasing his compensation.  He has figured out a way to string out his work so it appears that it takes him the full amount of time.  

Alex’s situation makes me cringe for so many reasons.  He thinks he has the upper hand! Where are his opportunities to dare greatly, to meet a challenge while facing fear,  to risk failure and enjoy the thrill of victory?  He reminds me of the Bison at the Zoo, completely unaware of his captivity.

Human Example #2  Ed is a salesmen for a company who provides industrial products.  The company was struggling with high turn-over among their sales-people. Their customers were also taking as long as 3 to 6 months to pay. In order to solve these problems, they came up with a new commission  policy.  

The sales person doesn’t get any amount of money until the customer has paid their bill in full. Problem solved!  Sales people won’t want to leave the company if they don’t get paid for sales they made months ago. In addition they will naturally be interested in convincing clients to pay.

Ed is miserable and wants out as soon as possible.  He’s waiting for a $20,000 commission check from a million dollar sale he made 6 months ago.  The outstanding balance is $500.  Sorry Ed, company policy.  You’ll have to stay until the customer pays in full. man-214200_1280

Unreal.  Ed is fenced in against his will, like the Bison in the Zoo. He’s dying a slow death and losing his heart in the process.

Scenarios like these are all too common. So many talented men and women are barely existing in jobs they hate. They’re putting forward just enough effort to keep their positions while continuing to receive a paycheck. They work around company policies to get away with the bare minimum and make it look like they are still working hard.  So many people just don’t care.


If this is you, it may be time to jump the fence.

You can’t possibly know what it looks like on the other side. Will there be adventure, risk and failure? Definitely.  You can’t be fully alive without them.  Is it worth it?

Think about the stories that inspire you. Who are the people you want to be more like? What do their lives look like?  Are they fenced in?  Secure? Monotonous? Or are they fully alive?  

You only get one life, don’t let the promise of a paycheck be the fence that steals your freedom. Embrace the risk of wild open territory. You have the choice to live a story that’s worth talking about. 

If you feel stuck in a job and you’re not sure how to get out, I can help.

If you own a business and you’re not sure how to inspire your employees, I can help.

Email me at


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