Several years ago, a friend of mine came close to breaking free from the institutional life. He had a foot in each place. But frightened by the unknown, he pulled back into the world he knew - confident that he was safer there where his mastery lay. Last week he was fired.
In my own life and family too we have a recurring story, a Greek tragedy, where the pull of duty and obligation to the familiar overwhelms the preservation of self. The outcome - an early death for both my father and grandfather. It seemed to be their only exit. I thought that I was exempt from this story but find that I am well into it.
I too like my friend have a choice. The paradox is that in a turbulent time, the greatest risk is in hanging onto what seems safe. The greatest safety - to reach into the unknown. This is surely not only true for each of us as individuals but also for organizations.
Here is how Herman Melville describes this in Moby Dick
"The port would fain give succor; the port is pitiful; in the port is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets, friends, all that's kind to our mortalities. But in that gale, the port, the land, is that ship's direst jeopardy; she must fly all hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze the keel, would make her shudder through and through. With all her might she crowds all sail off shore; in so doing, fights 'gainst the very winds that fain would blow her homeward; seeks all the lashed sea's landlessness again; for refuge's sake forlornly rushing into peril; her only friend her bitterest foe! " Moby Dick - The Lee Shore Chapter.