The Shawshank Principle

We were sitting in another of our favourite coffee shops the other day and somehow or another we got talking about our favourite films.


We have very different tastes however one of the films we both agreed was a classic and in both our respective top ten’s was the Shawshank Redemption starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murder of his wife and her lover, despite his claims of innocence. During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, “Red” and the rest of the film is about how they adapt to life in prison without losing the essence of who they are as people. We don’t want to say much more, in case you haven’t seen it yet, but we would highly recommend it.


However it’s not the storyline or the great acting the film is most renowned for.  The film was released to critical acclaim receiving multiple award nominations (including seven Oscar nominations) and highly positive reviews from critics.  Even though it didn’t win any Oscars, it should still have been a box office hit, but it wasn’t, in fact it was a total flop; the public just weren’t interested in going to see it.


It was only when it was released on video (remember those) that the film began to attract the public’s attention. It quickly became one of the most popular video rentals of the time, with video purchases and rentals far outperforming the film at the box office.  Since then the Shawshank Redemption is often listed as one of the best films of its time ‘Empire Magazine Best Film of the 90’s’ iMDB’s #1 Top 250 films and quoted in many peoples’ lists of their favourite films, just like us.


It’s interesting to make the comparison with how sometimes you might be received as a leader.  There will be many times when you do things, make changes and develop people when they just aren’t receptive or even rally against it.   You know, with your leadership hat on it’s the right thing to do, but because of what might be going on for the individual, they just can’t see it.  Just like with the Shawshank, it’s not until much later they can start to appreciate what you did and why you did it.


If you can still, hand on heart say I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do, whether the people like it or not, you need to have the courage of your convictions and trust yourself.  Yes initially you might not be popular, but once time passes and people have the opportunity to fully benefit from your actions, your credibility as a leader will massively increase.


Just a certain films, like the Shawshank flop at the box office, but then later achieve cult status, leadership, because of its very nature can never be always popular, but trust us when done well it will always gain your respect.



Martin & Elizabeth  

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