I’ve just been reading Krish Surroy’s article “The Elements of Freedom”, and it prompted me to think about how I view freedom.
As Krish says, if you put a group of people in a room together, and ask them what their top value is, the majority will say “freedom”. That ratio increases in a group of entrepreneurs.
Having worked in a corporate environment for just over 20 years, part of what freedom embodies, for me, is not having someone else tell me what to do.
Of course, I’m accountable to my clients – if I didn’t deliver what they wanted, there would be trouble – but I have a lot of flexibility in how I work.
I was talking to a friend of a friend the other day. He also said his top value is freedom. Unfortunately, he currently has so much freedom that he’s barely earning enough money to live on.
Similarly, a woman I met at a workshop, recently, said: “I am rich in many areas – just not financially.”
This is the kind of excuse I used to tell myself too, because it made me feel better about having no money. I knew that I wanted freedom – but the price of that freedom was financial disaster. In fact, when I listed my values, money didn’t appear anywhere – so it’s hardly surprising I wasn’t earning any!
True freedom, for me, is being able to earn a living doing something I enjoy – spending time with people I like, and having the flexibility to work wherever and whenever it suits me, within reason. I’m happy to have deadlines, or to commit to working a certain number of hours/days for a client, because it gives me the structure I need, without it being oppressive.
The ironic thing is, when you have structure in your life, you can have more freedom – because you’re not feeling guilty about doing your creative stuff when you “should” be bringing in money. But most creative people don’t like the idea of structure – they’re afraid it will limit their spontaneity.
However, total freedom STIFLES creativity! There’s nothing worse than being given a brief to create “whatever you like” – with no theme, no medium and no purpose. In order to create, you need to have parameters within which to work. Even having a “blank canvas” is a limitation that helps you to focus – because your medium has already been decided for you.
Freedom, as an ideal, is very appealing. However, there is a price to freedom. In my opinion, that price is either reduced financial freedom, or reduced spontaneity. Having experienced both, I’ve realised that I’m more willing to sacrifice a little bit of spontaneity!
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