Don't sweat the small stuff. Shoot the hostage.

02 Jul 2015

Shoot the hostage


A hostage is a very powerful excuse a person uses to stop a problem from being solved. We all take hostages all the time, to justify our action or our inaction.

‘I would have been fit but I have a weakness for alcohol.’

‘We could have made it work but she blew things out of proportion.’

‘I am not a BD person or else we could have grown much faster in the last 6 months.’

In each of the above statements there is a powerful hostage that the speaker has taken and they prevent him or her from taking action.

Growth gets unlocked when you let go of the hostage, when you take out the biggest crutch you’re leaning on.

This reminds me of a scene from the movie Speed between Jack Tavern (Keanu Reeves) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) who both play LAPD cops.  I’ve saw this move a dozen times back then and the one thing that stayed with me was this scene.

Harry: Alright, pop quiz: The airport. Gunman with one hostage, he’s using her for cover, he’s almost to the plane. You’re a hundred feet away.

Jack: Shoot the hostage

Harry: What?

Jack: Take her out of the equation. He can’t get to the plane with her. Clear shot.

Harry: You are deeply nuts, you know that? ‘Shoot the hostage.’ Jesus.

Jesus, yes. But you just got a short master class in problem-solving.

Kill your hostages. It’s the way to take out the gunman, the real problem. The hostage is the only impediment. But if you take out the hostage, then what is the issue? You can now focus just on the gunman and take him out.

I know it may sound like a violent metaphor but suspend your squeamishness for a second and consider this situation.

You want to lose 5 kilos. But you hate exercise and you love beer. Your hatred of exercise and your addiction to beer are your hostages. Get rid of them. Unless you do, the gunman – the 5 kilos of excess belly fat – will always be out of reach.

Muster up the courage to shoot your hostages. As soon as you do, the problem simplifies and you can focus on the gunman.

About the Author:

Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.

Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.


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