“Most people do not really want freedom because freedom involves responsibility and most people are frightened of responsibility,” Michael Roddy. I don’t completely agree with this statement, but at the same time, I am guilty of this. I believe people really do want freedom, we just haven’t been taught what it entails in an honest fashion. So many people’s stories from Bill Gates to Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs have been romanticized to the point where people believe there will always be one magic moment where things take off and their lives change. Yes, there can always be that one thing that completely changes the game, but we look at the work as an endpoint. Meaning we have been trained to believe that there is a finite amount of time that really hard work needs to be done (long hours, long weeks, etc.) and then it changes. We aren’t trained to understand it never stops.
The other idea that is romanticized is the ultimate passion project. For Gates, Bezos, and Jobs in particular, their lives revolved around a central project for years upon years until they garnered enough funds to branch out, and even then, they still had their one main focus. The consuming nature of a passion is glossed over. To be clear, I am NOT saying passion is bad, I am saying we aren’t taught what passion really entails. When you have a real driver, your live gets very clear but it also gets very singular for a time. There isn’t much else that you focus on.
The part I agree with is that people are afraid of responsibility. For myself, I know making decisions weighed heavily on me for a very long time. I couldn’t take the pressure of not knowing what my decisions would yield down the road, whether they were “right” or not. So I stopped making my own decisions. It was easy to let people decide for me. But it made me miserable. I started to feel like nothing was in my control.
Freedom takes work. I wrote the other day about the effort it takes to live the languid lifestyle. In order to be able to call the shots or do what we want we have to decide what we want and we have to do what it takes to get there. It is terrifying. Suddenly the results are yours. Everything that happens, or might happen, comes down to your decisions. It is a heavy burden. So you have to choose what burden you want to take on. What is your goal? What are you willing to do to achieve it? What is really worth it to you? Getting clear on what you want is the first step. Maybe all you need is a few weeks to yourself a year for a nice vacation. Maybe you want to build an empire. Both are your decision but both require different work.
Speaking from experience, it isn’t necessarily the responsibility I feared, it was failure. It was the feeling of wanting something so badly and not getting it after putting in the work. It was not knowing if I would be able to be consistent enough to maintain the work through the ups and downs. In short, it was having little faith in myself. I know I want freedom, I just don’t want to make the error that would put be farther behind, hoping for that moment where everything changes. I agree with Roddy but I think it depends on the motivation. I wanted the guarantee of success before moving—which got me nowhere. But my lack of initiative had nothing to do with not wanting responsibility, it had to do with making sure I took on the right responsibility.
I’ve learned that it’s really about putting aside fears. It’s about garnering faith and taking on the responsibility that aligns with our path instead of taking on what we think will give us the ultimate success. We all want meaningful work. We want a meaningful life—and we can have that if we don’t get distracted by what we think we should have. I want responsibility because I want to create a life I enjoy. I want to take on the things I enjoy because I enjoy doing them. That is key. Do it for the joy of doing it and the rest falls into place. You may surprise yourself with what you can do, and with what you want to do.