Freedom of thought
Freedom of dreams
Freedom to believe
That we all can be kings (& queens)
From the song ‘Freedom of Speech’
By John Mellencamp
“Freedom to make a difference” is the last line of Seth Godin’s July 4th, 2021, blog, entitled ‘From/to.’ I found the statement and the blog to be compelling and instantaneously relevant to my continued thoughts on Legacy Mindsets.
I believe that both freedom and responsibility provide the keys to unlock the full potential of our Legacies – both the Legacies we create in our moment-to-moment interactions with others and our accumulated collective Legacies.
Although freedom may sound like the antithesis of responsibility, I argue the opposite. To be truly free, we must accept full responsibility for our responses to what happens in our lives. Responsibility and freedom are two sides of the same coin and therefore inherently linked. Godin makes the case that freedom and responsibility are inseparable partners.
“Adopting these perspectives of freedom and responsibility keeps us from diminishing our agency and power and grows our Legacies.”
Working with leaders, I sometimes find they curtail their freedom by framing issues in ways that restrict their choices. Constricting their options leads them to feel less in control and less responsible for their lives.
These are fake-outs. We almost always have more choices than we recognize if we are willing to look. Drawing on our imaginations and sometimes working with a thinking partner, we can – and should – expand our possibilities, which increases our sense of responsibility.
Combining greater acceptance of our responsibility with a broadened array of options helps us make better choices that can lead to better outcomes. The process allows us to shift from the draining energy embodied in ‘have to’ to the motivating power of ‘get to.’ Doing so makes us feel more in control and moves us in affirming directions.
Sometimes we associate responsibility with being weighed down by it, burdened, seriousness, obligation, and blame. These correlations are no fun and can inhibit the degree of responsibility we are willing to own. While some of these attributes may be accurate, they are not the only meanings we can make.
We can also develop positive associations with responsibility, such as credibility, worthiness, belonging, dependability, and trust. We can include accountability for full acceptance of self and others, our happiness, gratitude, humor, and joy.
Taking total responsibility for our lives means altogether exercising our freedom to choose those lives. The majority of us do not live our lives this way, and we rationalize away the reasons why. Exemplified by the emphatic and ironic statement by Jeff Goldblum’s character Michael in the movie the ‘Big Chill’ “Don’t knock rationalization; where would we be without it? I don’t know who could get through a day without two or three juicy rationalizations.”
We laugh because of the truth in it. We see ourselves exposed in this statement. When we deny and therefore do not accept that we are all sometimes full of s**t, we find ourselves off track—compelling us to justify our behavior.
Legacy Mindsets keep us on track by reminding us we are constantly creating Legacies that make an impact.
Consequently, we are always responsible for contributing to good or ill through our interactions.
Godin calls us to hold our focus and exercise our freedom in meaningful ways. The propositions are key here. ‘To’ and ‘from’ denote motion, moving in the direction of or away from along a continuum. Increasing our power by moving away from false constraints on our freedom and towards fuller ownership of our responsibilities requires us to repeatedly revisit, reaffirm, and recommit to our purpose and values. Consistently realigning ourselves with what we deem most worthy is how we live the lives we want and leave the legacies we intend.
When we disregard our core values and purpose, we move through our lives, forgetting why we are here, taking our freedom for granted, and abdicating our most essential responsibilities – making positive differences for ourselves and others.
- Adopting the perspective of freedom and responsibility is inherently linked in fundamental ways, keeps us from diminishing our agency and power, and grows our Legacies.
- Freedom from self-imposed constraints permits us to expand possibilities, increase our responsibility, and enhance our decision-making.
- Taking responsibility for accepting ourselves and others and our happiness and joy increases our power and magnifies our freedom, as it frees us from the need to rationalize.
- We are always responsible for our interactions’ impact on others, even when we pretend otherwise. Accepting this means we can choose how we interact with them and the impact we leave behind.
- Legacy Mindsets remind us to affirm and commit to the differences we have decided to devote ourselves and align with our core values and purpose – helping remind us why we are here.
If you are interested in expanding possibilities inherent in freedom and amplifying the positive power of responsibility in yourself, your team, or your organization, please reach out to me; I welcome the connection.