Individual Over the Institution

by Adam benshea on July 24, 2016


At Jailhouse Strong we believe in the individual over the institution.

Any great movement begins with an individual and an idea.

In religious tradition, a new spiritual community takes shape when a charismatic individual introduces a new medium for relating to God.

In business, a successful company is formed when an unconventional thinker draws people together around a new product and service.

In political history, a coalition is formed by a pioneering leader who offers his people a form of governance that will provide them with better access to basic necessitates and the opportunity for upward mobility.

The magnetic personality of the founder mixed with his unorthodox perspective creates a spark that, under the right circumstances, can spread like a summer wild fire.

The initial phase in each of these movements is an exciting time.  It is a time of rapid growth and expansion.  Everything feels fresh and new.  There is a promise of a better reality within reach.

The success of any new movement is based on the innovation of the founding individual.  While he may share characteristics and ideas with other prominent figures, this individual has a personality and message that is distinctly his own.  He is different.

If the message is shared successfully, the movement will continue to gain followers after the death of its founder.

At this point, there is a shift in focus.  While the people initially gathered around the founding individual, now there is the creation of association with an institution.

The initial goal of the institution is to spread the good news of the founder to the masses.  Over time, the goal of the institution becomes the continued existence of the institution.  Ingenuity gives way to bureaucracy.

Institutional existence becomes synonymous with group think and collective action.  Where the individual walks to his own drummer.  The institution at its highest point is a parade.  At its lowest point, it is a mob.

No matter the content of corporate marketing campaigns or office team building sessions, an institution does not have a soul.

Any life that exists inside of an institution is a consequence of the individuals working for that institution.

An individual is not necessarily someone who establishes a great movement or a new community.  But, he is some who possess the requisite courage to a live a life that is distinctly his own.

You don’t need to sit inside of an ornate cathedral to relate to God. You don’t require employment in a big corporation to do business.  You don’t need membership in a large political party to effectively govern.

You do not need to be incarcerated in a correctional institution to realize that you must break free from your particular form of imprisonment.

The institutional process takes many forms.  The individual process takes only one form, yours.

Believe in the individual over the institution.

Believe in your ability to change your body, your job, and your life.

Goleta Slough

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