The Deputy did nothing, just stood there with his maniacal grin.This served to punctuate my position.I was alone.I had no power.The Calvary wasn’t coming.It was then that I noticed the clock:2:00 AM.Huh?I had been “processed” at approximately 9:30 PM and there was no way I had been there for4.5 hours!Things were getting weirder by the minute.I mean, this is America, right?I have rights!But I had not been given a phone call.I had no access to the outside world.And no one inside was listening to me.I was hung-over from bad beer, my mouth was coated with filmy, tasteless grunge.I was miserable.And my trials were just beginning…


Now, my readers may be thinking to themselves:”What is The Meeting Guy talking about?How does any of this relate to improving business performance?”To these questions, I answer:Please be patient.This tale is critically important to business people everywhere.As Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter wrote:”All good things in all good time.”

Yes, the trials were just beginning.I had become hopeful, as another Deputy arrived on the scene.But that hope only lasted an instant.The new Deputy was different from the first, but also exactly the same.Shorter, with darker hair, he displayed the same maniacal grin that by now I associated with abject evil.He pointed at me and said:”You want a phone call?OK, come on…”and he unlocked the cell door and beckoned me to come out.

Feeling righteous and vindicated, I looked him straight in the eye, as if I had won a fight.He walked me down a long white hallway covered in cold tiles.We passed the original intake office, where I saw the clock there read 11:30 PM.The intake officer looked up and grinned as we passed.It all just felt wrong, but I just kept walking.As we turned a corner, the Deputy tapped my shoulder.I stopped.We were in front of another cell.He reached forward with his keys, unlocked the door, and opened it.Inside was another prisoner, a large, muscular African American male in dirty shorts and a tank top.Suddenly, I felt a boot kick me in the small of my back, and I was propelled into the open cell, sprawling onto the floor.Again, I heard the deeply sinister clank of a cell door locking closed.Both Deputies were now standing in front of the cell, laughing but not happy.I heard:”There’s your phone call, punk!”

I started screaming obscenities and shaking the bars…I was out of control, a pent up animal so full of rage that I could have… !Um, well… I guess I wasn’t really so tough.Because at that moment, I heard a noise from behind me.”Hey!HEY!If you don’t shut the _ _ _ _ up, I’m going to CUT you, PUNK.”

I turned, remembering the other person in my cell.He was now on his feet, standing above me.He was tall, the most menacing person I have ever laid eyes on.My stomach dropped.I stopped yelling and in fact became very small and silent.I thought I was about to die.

At this point, we need to compare our inner and outer worlds.We’re blessed to live in North America, right?We’re monumentally blessed to have personal computers, to have an Internet so we can read this Blog, to have organic food waiting for us at the local grocery store, and etc., etc.From the 1st Amendment to GPS systems that speak English, we’re living the Dream…Freedom, abundance, and potential.That’s what it’s all about, right?We’re the richest society in all of human history.Products of a miraculous goodness, drunk and happy we spin and dance out of control towards a better future filled with everything we could ask for, including customized whoopee cushions, Botox lip implants, iMax theatres, nano-bikinis, vertical tanning booths and gravity boots.We have it all, more than anyone can imagine.We are satisfied, the greatest society the world has ever known.

But if all that is true for everyone, if that is true for me, why do I complain like a pirate whose peg is stuck in a knothole?

The answer is simple:My cage is on the inside.

This man in my cell, he must have had a very poor upbringing.I mean, talk about bad manners.He was just plain ugly in every way, and I could basically read his mind:He was evaluating whether to squish my skull or pull my underwear up through my throat.I had only one option:I had to make him laugh.I had to break my cage so I could climb around on his.

I stepped boldly towards him, threw my arms open wide, and exclaimed:”Thank you, man!Can you believe these a-holes?!I’m just glad you’re here, man… “And then I just started laughing and shaking my head.I dropped my eyes from his and just kept chuckling, walking slowly, right by him to the back wall, laughing softly at the cosmic joke of it all.

My lack of fear disarmed this fearful being.He started laughing too, like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.In that moment, we created freedom for each other.We had broken the cage that was around us.And I had learned the most valuable lesson of all time:The cage is inside all of us.