The Big Career Management Lessons from The Shawshank Redemption|

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I look at 3 characters from the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, and use it to speak about a career mistake.  They too many people make.

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If you've never seen the movie, "The Shawshank Redemption," you are missing a gem. It is based upon the story by Stephen King. It is a wonderful, wonderful American movie focusing on Andy Dufresne, Red , and a minor character that shows up named Brooks. Between the 3 of them . I think there person terrific lessons for employees who work for firms. Brooks is someone who works in the prison library, my thoughts about this came together for me this morning.

Brooks is released from prison and not long after he is out and doing the work that is expected of him on the outside, he comes to realize that he can't really function on the outside and commit suicide. Red is released and checks into her room and seeing his car into the beam are the words, "Brooks Was Here." Red has been bagging groceries in a supermarket, working hard, asking for permission to do things like he did in prison. Red comes to realize that he is on the same path that Brooks was on.

Then, there is Andy Dufresne. He is the embezzler, the bank robber, the guy who embezzled money from his bank and no one has ever found it. He makes a path for himself in prison the hard way. It is a very hard path, let's not kid ourselves. If you seen this movie, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Andy refuses to become institutionalized like Brooks was and read discovers he was in a very different way. Red is a little bit of a con man, the one you can get cigarettes from from the outside. If there's something special that you want, he will arrange for it. Yet, he has worked in that system and doesn't really know how to function in the real world.

For many of you job hunters, for many of you who worked in one organization for a long time, you have become as institutionalized as Brooks. You've learned to believe the BS that you been told by your employer about what you're capable of and what you are incapable of. When you finally get to the outside, you'll learn that you're capable of a lot more.

And there is a risk because you may discover that it is scary out there. I'll let you in on a secret – – it is. When you step into an environment outside of your comfort zone, it feels a little scary. But doing so is going to be the way that you will survive and eventually thrive by getting out of the places that put these deadening rules on you that cause you to conform and behave and do things that you really don't want to be doing.

It starts with courage. It starts with the courage to realize that there's more to your life and more to your work life than just doing this. That's the lesson from Andy Dufresne., Andy looks like someone who is becoming a part of the system and she isn't. He is willing to take risks-- calculated risks.

Eventually, he winds up making it to the outside and living.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for what more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1000 episodes,“ Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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