From Jim:

It may seem strange to start with the story of Cinderella but the story’s millennial popularity sets the ground for the idea of “saved from being saved.” The stories of Cinderella and Aladdin, her male counterpart, focus on the main character who possesses excellent qualities and talents but is in a situation where those attributes cannot be seen. Then through a magical circumstance the character is saved---discovered and recognized for the wonder she or he is.

Some version of this story is told worldwide, from China to Southeast Asia, through India to the Middle-East, Europe, North and South America. The theme of recognition and rise from obscurity to splendor resonates with men and women across the globe. So why am I using it here? And why does the title of this post suggest the opposite of magical deliverance?

The last two words answer that question. Magical deliverance is a very deep and primordial longing, a wish every single one of us has experienced at some time in our lives and for most people it serves as an ongoing unconscious background directing the way they live their lives. Various forms of Lotto around the United States attest to the desire to have something or someone come along after which life will be effortless and exalted.

However as many of those reveal who’ve hit the Lotto and then watched their lives spin downward into dismay, there is a veiled toxin in the Cinderella/Aladdin yearning that can stop people dead in their tracks.

That toxin is the desire to be saved from life.

In our work consulting to corporations my wife Judith Sherven, PhD and I have heard it over and over again---men and women not prepared and not willing to ask for the recognition they want either through expanded responsibilities or a promotion. They lament that their work should be enough to have them recognized. Management should just see their value and reward them with a promotion.

But if that world had existed then the Cinderella/Aladdin stories would never have been told. But they have, and universally. Why? Because that magical and very alluring world does not exist.

The actual world we inhabit requires that we assert our own initiative in order to make our way toward our goals. This doesn’t mean that we can’t get help along the way. We not only can, we must. Life cannot be lived alone. Even the most powerful CEOs we’ve worked with need the assistance of others: not only to envision objectives and outcomes but to then implement and achieve them. To employ a cliché---none of us is an island. But those powerfully successful people we’ve worked with do not expect to be saved. They know that life is an intentionally creative act. It must be taken up: sometimes wrestled with, sometimes danced with, but always consciously engaged.

Cinderella and her golden slipper and Aladdin and his genie-filled lamp are characters in myth. They are not real. But more important, there is a very real danger in wanting to be saved. It leaves you utterly dependent upon some outside force or entity without whom you are lost. You are powerless, living at the mercy of their whim---for example, the random selection of Lotto numbers to determine the winner.

Okay, so what to do?

● Stop taking for granted the sometimes quiet sometimes booming wish to be taken care of and plant your feet solidly on the real ground of this life. This doesn’t mean that unasked for recognition and reward cannot come along. It can and it does. The decision you need to make is to stop longing for it. It is the longing that keeps you impotent and a victim. You may rear up now and say “I am not longing for It,” but that only calls out the second point.

● Pay close attention as you go through your day. Watch for images and listen for thoughts like “How come I have to do this?” or “Why did I end up with this job?” or the secret whisper “I wish…” and whatever follows those two words. There’s no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed. We all would like the Prince or the magic Genie to appear and take care of things. No matter how beautiful and awesome, life is hard and can be very hard sometimes. But “hard” is a child’s word. Change it to “challenging” and then set about solving the issue at hand.

● Take seriously your successes no matter how small. Each one is a disavowal of the longing to be saved, a transformation of helplessness into ability, and a fuller acceptance of your power and capacity to whatever degree in the moment. Consciously integrate your successes and build upon them. Acknowledge your own authority and say goodbye to Cinderella or Aladdin: as seductive as they have been they can only lead you into apathy and regret.

I’d love to hear your own wish-filled stories and how you’ve changed them into the real splendor of real life fully lived.

Author's Bio: 

Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabuloustm. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston, check out

Currently working as consultants on retainer to LinkedIn providing executive coaching, leadership training and consulting as well as working with private clients around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. They call it Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous