As we approach the celebration of July 4th, I have been reflecting on the significance of freedom in our daily lives. I think of freedom as having the liberty to make my own choices and having free will in planning and designing my own life and work experiences. We are blessed to live in a country that values the entrepreneurial spirit. Many of the people that I know and admire have started their own businesses and are role models for others on how to "do your own thing" successfully. As coaches at ConvergenceCoaching, we are regularly assisting business owners in maximizing their talents and those of their team to achieve their dreams that had them start their own business in the first place while managing the responsibility that comes along with that ownership.
I was recently rereading Colette Dowling's book The Cinderella Complex. She identifies the hidden fears of independence that women often have. Why would anyone be afraid of being free? Her book was written in 1981 and describes societal changes that have affected women's independence over time, including how women were trained to retreat from challenge and to value “being saved” or protected by men. She then concludes with ways to "spring free" from the dependency trap and embrace a more independent lifestyle, just as we do when in our teens and break away from the dependency of our parents. I don't think that this only applies to women. We have seen some of the same fears in both men and women when it comes to the responsibilities of independence and making tough decisions about their businesses, often preferring the predictability of the “known” rather than taking risks towards the unknown.
When we recognize the conflict between the comfort of what we already know and the fear of the unknown, we gain more power to take risks and exercise our independence. We're like young birds testing our wings. We repeat this process each time that we try new things. Dowling describes the need for a systematic plan and a persistent behavior to make these changes so we’re more likely to achieve success – and we agree!
We help leaders develop a focused strategy for change. Having a plan allows us to let go of old fears and move forward with new behaviors. We design our roadmap. We set the destination. We are clear about who is driving. We take responsibility for how far we plan to go and know where we choose to make rest stops. Sometimes we may change drivers but we are still headed in the right direction. If we start to get lost, we stop and freely share about where we went wrong. We recalibrate the route and hit the road. We support each other's independence and unique contribution to our goals.
Having a plan also helps us be responsible for our decisions and freedom of choice. We can plan for potential impacts on others and be accountable for our decisions. It’s a fine balance between exercising our independence and freedoms and limiting some of those freedoms for the “greater good.” We are experiencing this in our country right now as we try to find the right balance as we address the emergency in the Gulf or determine how far to go with bailouts. We experience these impacts of our independence and free choice on a smaller scale in our own practices, too. This is why we have professional associations and partnerships with codes of ethics to help us maintain this balance. And individually we can develop a plan that will consider the consequences of our decisions as we work towards our goals and then create regular feedback against our plan with others we are in partnership with or whom we know have a similar value system and will help hold us accountable.
As we sing songs of liberty and freedom this Independence Day, let’s take a moment to appreciate our freedoms and increase our awareness of the impacts of the choices that we make as we employ these freedoms. How do you balance your independence so you can exercise the freedoms we get to enjoy in the great U.S. of A. and be responsible for your decisions and the impact they have on others? Post a comment and share!
P.S. The ConvergenceCoaching team will be celebrating the 4th of July holiday on Monday, July 5th, so our offices will be closed. We will be back in our offices on Tuesday, July 6th. Be safe and enjoy your holiday weekend!