“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
“The new electronic independence re-creates the world in the image of a global village.”
— Marshall McLuhan
We are one day away from celebrating America’s Independence Day, and it has made me ponder what independence and freedom really means. Like many Americans, I am grateful to be free. We American citizens are all free, thanks to the Revolutionary War hundreds of years ago, and the plethora of people who have pledged their lives to protect our freedoms; in military and civilian positions since. We can learn so much from these brave, heroic, admirable men and women of the military who have contributed so much, sometimes losing much in the process.
What’s the difference between being free and being independent and why does it matter?
• Being free means being unencumbered from current obligations, being unconstrained in the way one moves through life
• Being independent means thinking/doing things for oneself i.e. being autonomous in the way one lives life
It matters because today’s startup culture demands that entrepreneurs exercise both freedom and independence in the way they approach both their journey (process) and outcome (exit strategy). It matters because the Digital Age demands that entrepreneurs actively pursue purpose AND profit, and consciously and regularly balance humanity and technology while doing so. It’s something that I wrote about in my book, The NICE Reboot, and something I’ve been writing about in my other blogposts this week. It’s something I’ve been pondering for a while, given my background as a pediatric speech therapist/Autism specialist concerned with fostering independence and freedom in the wonderful children I’ve worked with in schools around the USA.
True freedom is achieved when one can actively harness time, exercise free will and choice, and engage with others productively. When one can easily transition between being a Me and We (which I wrote about here on WordPress last week), fully “living in the moment” and the “give and take” of those relationships. It’s something I touched on in my latest Tumblr post, which you can read here.
True independence is achieved when one can demonstrate Theory of Mind (perspective, empathy), what Maslow coined “self actualization”, and what parents and professionals deem “non-parasitic” behavior. Independent people display competency in multiple areas, something which concerns me as an educator and entrepreneur. It’s why I wrote this LinkedIn post about skills needed to pursue the American Dream. It’s why I publicly and vocally advocate for people to regularly engage in a digital detox, despite me being a well known iPad Evangelist and self professed Fem-Geek 🙂
So I am taking steps to exercise both my freedom AND my independence; as an entrepreneur and as a human being. I’m taking a break this July from the rat race; the never-ending maze of pitches and problem solving which is the ‘trep M.O. I’m taking a short holiday from the from the constant symphony, er cacophony of “voices” from the social media feeds I encounter. I’m taking a hiatus from my own inner voice, telling me to continue blogging across platforms, at full throttle, full speed ahead, do not pass go. I still plan on writing, but I need to get off the merry-go-round a bit.
Benjamin Franklin once said:
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
I plan on spending time this summer doing both. People often forget the benefits of calling a deliberate, active “time out”. It helps us rediscover our authentic and innovative selves, fostering greater creativity and creative thinking. It helps us be more mindful of our blessings and accomplishments, and raise our happiness quotient. It helps us forestall stagnant thinking, inertia, and perfectionism; all unproductive in entrepreneurship!
Taking a hiatus, whether it’s a vacation, stay-cation, “digital detox”, and/or Nature Break are all designed to do two things for us: find our focus and become more outcome independent. Both help us stop over thinking things and multi-tasking; something we entrepreneurs truly need to consider!
So I declare my independence from outdated thinking and practices; professionally and personally. I declare my freedom from the pressures of weekly blogging; for now 🙂 I have really enjoyed the learning experience, and know that if I find stuff worth sharing, I will be back! Woman entrepreneurship is vastly underrepresented in the blogosphere; something I am very aware of and something that desperately needs to be changed.
But successful and effective thought leadership and virtual mentorship via social media hinders on the person’s own ability to harness time and be truly free, and the person’s own ability to develop a strong sense of self and purpose, and be truly independent. I wish all my fellow entrepreneurs and bloggers, especially those who are women like me, the best of luck in their pursuit of both.
Happy July 4rth!