Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

, Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying, Future State Engineering

This famous line was delivered both by Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, and by Ellis “Red” Redding, played by Morgan Freeman, in the movie The Shawshank Redemption.

Under a set of circumstances outside of his control, Andy was convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, and was placed in prison on two consecutive life sentences. Given this situation, he realized that he had two options and that only he himself could affect his future. He could be proactive about his situation and do something about it, meaning getting busy living, or he could accept his situation and do nothing about it, meaning getting busy dying.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are all feeling a bit like Andy Dufresne, placed into a situation by a set of circumstances outside of our control. So, now is the time to ask ourselves, are we going to get busy living, or get busy dying?


Option 1: Get Busy Dying

This current pandemic is forcing us to change the way we do work with customers, suppliers, and even employees. The organizations that will throw their hands up and not adapt to the ever-changing current situation, or are not able to implement changes rapidly to address the issues at hand, will struggle to survive, or will not survive and will go out of business. The concept of Get Busy Dying applies to organizations that are not prepared to change their business model or have a culture that is not receptive to rapid changes in the mode of operations.

The concept of Get Busy Dying not only applies to organizations, but also to yourself. Many times, the easy choice is to not make a decision and let the situation run its course, this way you always have the situation to blame for your struggles or failure. If you do this, you not only put yourself at risk of a better future, but you put others at risk as a result of your behavior.

Whether to apply the concept of Get Busy Dying to your organization or to yourself, there is another alternative which is to Get Busy Living.


Option 2: Get Busy Living

To Get Busy Living we need to make a conscious decision to succeed in the situation given to us. We need to start thinking about new and different ways to prevail by using our advantages and assets. Successful companies will be the companies that rapidly respond and change their business to the situation presented to them.

This isn’t as easy as it seems. One of the main challenges we face is to fight the internal forces that feel like they are handcuffing us. One of the reasons that we feel handcuffed stems from our internal beliefs of how things are done. These internal beliefs are referred to as our current paradigm which can be defined as a standard, perspective, set of ideas, or a way of looking at something.


The Paradigm Shift

To achieve breakthrough results, we must look at the situation from another perspective. This change in thinking is defined as a paradigm shift. If we don’t alter the way we think about our business, then we start getting busy dying. The organizations that are going to survive are the ones that can rapidly respond and change their business model by challenging the current paradigms.

One way to start challenging our current paradigms is to think about the needs of your customer. Begin to think about what product or service that you provide for your customers and answer the question: What need, or needs, is your organization satisfying for your customer? The way that you satisfied those needs in the past is your current paradigm. Now begin to ask yourself: Is there another way that your organization can satisfy those customer needs, that is different than what you did in the past, or is different from what anybody else is doing?


Breaking the current paradigms

This type of questioning will unlock the opportunity for either providing the same value in a different way or providing much more value to the customer.

Future State Engineering promotes organizations to understand internal and external risks and to understand the potential negative effect the risks can have on the business. Although it is difficult to predict all potential risks, the direction of the solution is always to be prepared to rapidly adjust to the changing conditions by understanding the needs of your customers, suppliers, and employees.

Now is the perfect opportunity to shift the thinking in your organization as well as give the employees the tools and resources to make the right decisions. If you would like to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Future State Engineering to explore options that organizations can implement in order to create a shift in thinking, please contact us at or

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