the condition or right of being able or allowed to do, say, think, etc. whatever you want to, without being controlled or limited (Cambridge Dictionary)
There are many definitions of freedom, but all more or less come down to the above. There are also many different levels of limitation of freedom, as I also indicated in my post on the ongoing protests in Iran (#mahsaamini), so everything I write is so damn relative and I am fully aware of it!
Bút our day to day work-reality affects our lives, our kids, relationships, health,… and deserves our attention, so eventually there’s time and energy left to serve bigger purposes (if you feel like it). From my first post, it’s clear I didn’t study something I’m passionate about, but passionate people in my team, colleagues that did study the right thing end up on my (these days) virtual sofa on a daily basis, because they are unhappy at work. I’ll try to be as objective as possible listing the freedom-limiting factors of working for someone else and the reasons for me to escape 🙂
You sign a contract that says how many hours you will work. It shows the depressing amount of days a year you can take for yourself and how many of those escape-options in a row are allowed. It sets your rules, your boundaries. We’re supposed to be happy when we can slide our working time by one hour to accommodate our daily rush – evolving a bit with the age of our kids , but always intensive. We can’t do things at our pace. We feel bad about it, but at the same time there’s a guilt- and/or stress feeling when we’re 5 minutes late in a meeting because we had to clean the back and neck of our baby who just released its entire tummy-content under high pressure right at the moment we were about to race to kindergarten (been there, done that… sometimes I was really surprised by the reach). We’re trapped by our contract, our agenda,… trapped by our employer. Our time is blocked to serve a king or queen (or a board of those types). We literally lose our freedom to breathe when it’s needed.
And yes… you get paid to do so (some more than others), but also these earnings are ‘blocked’ by time. Either you work as an employee and have a fixed salary (sure some get a bonus/stock options/RSU’s/…), or you’re billed per hour, but everything has a ceiling. You’re limited by a fixed amount in your contract, by the amount of hours per week you can work if you’re paid by the hour. Your earnings are limited by time and tax (where I live, my net-reward isn’t even half of the gross).
Working for an employer gives you a safety feeling. You have something to rely on every month. It’s not enough to be free, but it pays the bills. You’re protected. Letting go of this is the struggle for most people, including me. I’m currently living a conflict phase between following my heart, breaking free or keeping that safety net. I have a family to take care of, a mortgage to pay. It feels a bit like chosing between knowingly, golden-handcuffed crawling back into that cage every day or jumping out of a plane with something on your back, hoping it will open timely to save you and give you the rush of your life (I’m not a fan of jumping out of an airplane, but I did so. The chute opened. I was glad I did so once in my life. My girlfriend asked the instructor if she could go up again, before she even landed 🙂 People are different, we need each other to balance… but in the end I did it. Now ooonly the figurative jump is left). Just saying, the safety feeling is limiting chances to obtain freedom in several aspects of life. With my blog I will share how I deal with my jump and perhaps I will need your help and virtual safety feeling to do so.
- The power pyramid
Power is a bitch. Yes, hierarchy is needed, but 99% (perhaps I exaggerate a bit) of the cases I’ve seen in my 20-year career, people moving up become politicians, opportunist, ego’s (nerds with an ego in my sector). They lose spine, because the way to the top is obeyance. And it seems at every stage there is a growing fear to have or express another opinion than the one above or even to table the obvious truth. I can’t imagine this gives a feeling of freedom either. It gives a precious title to show and brag about on Linkedin, being of course publically congratulated on that same platform upon achievement by the people sitting next to you in the office – so their titles get some attention again as well or their chances of climbing up increase by 1 point. This pyramid (often also rectangle or reverse pyramid, depending on the amount of managers) is limiting your freedom in many ways, but if you’re willing to follow, who knows you might go up one level and get some more crums.
- The competence Pyramid
I’ll keep it short on this one. When googling for this, one will find a pyramid going from knowing/vision to doing/execution. This is not necessarily parallel to the power pyramid and in many cases has been proven even to be exactly the opposite, when high level management starts to “do” without knowing. I can elaborate a lot on this, showing how destructive this can be to a company… Probably I will in the future, which is the main reason for writing anonymously, as I’m halfway up the first pyramid and the upper-crows wouldn’t really understand (anymore). I literally asked not to get promoted by the way, as I don’t think my competence level matches my precious title on Linkedin 🙂 Still they did – hence present tense in the previous sentence. I show facts and reality tho, for as long as it lasts. On topic: wrong competence management and incompetence above you can really be limiting your freedom (even the limited freedom within the job-cage) and your development options.
- The Lencioni Pyramid
This time I’ll really keep it short. All the above in a team leads to a lack of trust. At least as long as I’ve witnessed, whenever there’s politics and ego-centrism in an organization, there is no trust between people. It limits a lot of things, ultimately even the freedom to enjoy results.
- The Lencioni Pyramid
Employees are numbers… or ants
Even though a job feels safe (and for sure it offers a lot of safety nets, even when you lose it), the higher you go up in hierarchy, the further away the people that actually do the job and the more those people are considered as numbers in excel. Your name and competences disappear, you become a job-title, a labor cost, an FTE-%,… in an excel file.
It is without too much discussion assumed that you’re willing to work evenings and weekends to meet a deadline even without extra compensation. Just because you adore your company and caring leaders. You are assumed to sacrifice your personal life and your family time, to (possibly) have issues with your partner for doing so. For the queen ant. I had people in my team doing so. It literally made me cry how devoted they were… one year after I was asked to make a list and bring a message to some of them. To me they are people.
First of all, the purpose of my writing is not to depress my 2 followers (if I did: so so sorry… but I’m really grateful to you for being there :))
The purpose of this purpose-topic is to highlight that for many people the true purpose of what they are doing all those hours a week is missing. Often the purpose offered by management is the achievement of revenue and the realization of the fabulous motivational hockey-stick. To be honest, it makes many people wonder about their purpose in life more often than it gives purpose to their jobs. And for the believers… as long as I’ve seen it, the hockey-stick miracle keeps on shifting to the right.
Last year I went to a career-coach for the second time in my life. The evaluation showed I was a highly creative person. I was flabbergasted. Moi? Creative? After some talks with the coach, it looked like I lost all my creativity (or rather the believe herein) during my professional career. For me this is an obvious limitation to develop my potential (and fun). I won’t generalize too much, but in many cases the revenue-purpose tends to kill or limit many people’s creativity.
How to get out?
This will be one of the core-topics on my blog and it’s my upcoming path I will share. I am convinced that passive income generation is key. My next work-oriented blog will list the options I will try. The steps towards my second free-fall-jump.