3 Signs You Are Institutionalized
Brooks was a convict who was being paroled after having been in prison for 50 years. The thought of leaving was so overwhelming, that he attacks a fellow prisoner so he can remain in prison.
“Red” (played by Morgan Freeman) explains:
Red: Would you knock it off? Brooks ain’t no bug. He’s just…just institutionalized.
Heywood: Institutionalized, my ass.
Red: The man’s been in here fifty years, Heywood. Fifty years! This is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man. He’s an educated man. Outside, he’s nothin’! Just a used up con with arthritis in both hands. couldn’t even get a library card if he applied. You see what I’m saying?
Floyd: Red, I do believe you’re talking out of your ass.
Red: Believe what you want. These walls are funny. First, you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them.
That’s institutionalized. Sound familiar??
Watch the video of the scene:
Do you work for a major corporation or government entity? Are you scared to leave?
Are you institutionalized?
I can think of three major groups that tend to be institutionalized.
- Large corporations, like IBM
- K-12 education
There are others, I am sure. Please comment below and give me your suggestions!
Do most of the people you know work for the same institution?
Are most of your LinkedIn connections working for your current employer? Do you lack LinkedIn connections because you did not see the need?
When I worked for IBM during their near bankruptcy in 1993, most of my colleagues lived in IBM ghettos. These were neighborhoods that were inhabited almost exclusively by IBMers.
When I taught high school math between 2004 and 2006, it was an all-consuming work environment. I lived and breathed what was going on in the school, and I rarely came up for air. Most of the teachers had little experience and contact with the outside work world.
If you can count the number of people you know outside of your institution on your two hands, you are probably institutionalized.
Do you speak “work speak?” Is the vocabulary particular to your institution? When I worked at IBM as a programmer, we talked about APARs, VM, MVS, and JES.
At the high school where I taught, we would discuss TEKS and TAKS.
In the briefing center for IBM, we would bring in military customers and they could throw out so many acronyms that our heads were spinning when we left the room.
Can you speak jargon-free English for a whole day?
If not, you are probably institutionalized!
Do your skills have value outside of your current institution? If not, you are probably institutionalized.
I remember when, in 1993, my boss was offered an early retirement package. She was 49 years old with 30 years at IBM and one of my best bosses ever.
She thought she had no value outside of IBM. She was institutionalized.
Of course, her skills were highly valued outside of IBM, but she did not know it!
Start by networking with people who have left your current institution. Where have they gone?
Contact them and ask for AIR – Advice, Insights, and Recommendations.
I had a client who was a West Point graduate. I asked him if any of his classmates left the military and went on to successful careers in the private sector.
His response was YES!
I asked him do you think they would be willing to help him?
His response was YES!
Get help in translating your skills outside of your current institution. I think you will find that, if you use the right vocabulary, you will be able to sell your skills.
Practice using this new vocabulary on anyone and everyone who is willing to listen.
Are you like Brooks?