We all want a sense of freedom. The ability to do what we want, pursue our dreams and feel present to a life full of adventure and possibility.
But most of us have no idea what being really free actually means.
When I was a teenager being free meant doing what I wanted.
Freedom to stay out late, to date who I wanted to date, to keep my door closed, to drive faster than the speed limit, to skip the homework assignments I thought were stupid or that I just didn’t want to do.
For some people, freedom is just that. Not wearing a mask. Buying a fake vaccine card to get into a restaurant. Cheating on their partners and hitting on servers.
Sometimes their justifications are more complex but the desire to be free is the same. It seems juvenile because it is. It’s a juvenile idea of freedom dressed up in politics and business suits.
Most people who have developed some maturity and empathy see that this form of freedom is limited. The joy of doing what you want doesn’t last long and the pain you cause others isn’t worth it. But not all of us learn this.
When I got out of college and started paying my own way, freedom meant being able to live the kind of life I wanted.
It meant I could pay my bills, I could choose where to go to dinner, or where to go on vacation.
Part of why I started my own business was because I wanted more of this freedom. The freedom to choose when I worked and who I worked with. The freedom to change my location or to do list at will.
I sought the freedom of a particular kind of lifestyle, which while motivating also ended up feeling a bit empty.
But many people stay focused on this kind of freedom as long as their alive.
Part of the reason the great resignation has happened is that the corona virus destroyed the false trappings of this kind of freedom.
Without boozy brunches and business trips many of us started seeing that lifestyle freedom didn’t mean much unless we had constant freedom of movement and an endless supply of distractions.
Working a crappy job to pay for a decent vacation isn’t worth it. Sure losing the vacation made that become clear, but even when we could take the vacations it still isn’t worth it.
I came to realize how empty this kind of freedom was when I achieved more than most people do as a business owner. I consistently earn multiple six figures a year and live on a portion of that with ease. But I still wasn’t really enjoying life that much.
Which is how I stumbled on the third kind of freedom. What I call spiritual or energetic freedom.
It’s the freedom to be or become anyone I want. And I’m not talking about becoming an astronaut.
This isn’t about achieving some title or some state of mind. It’s about the ability to embody any energy the moment calls for. It’s about being able to be my darkness fully. It’s about being able to fully embody my sexuality and desire. It’s about being able to fully embody deep wisdom or deep foolishness.
This is the next level of freedom.
I touched this kind of freedom when I lived at a zen monastery for two years, but without the kind of lifestyle freedom, I craved.
It was only after achieving some of the lifestyle that I wanted that I was able to really see how meaningful energetic freedom really was.
Energetic freedom doesn’t depend on roles or status. It doesn’t depend on age or attractiveness. It’s the most generous kind of freedom, because it’s a freedom that allows you to respond moment to moment in whatever way serves the most.
And yet it’s a kind of freedom very few people talk about because it’s so hard to understand.
So many of the CEOs I’ve coached have achieved full lifestyle freedom but feel trapped in themselves.
So many celebrities live lives of glamour and wealth but seemed hemmed in by their own personalities and habitual ways of being.
At a time when so many of us still can’t go on vacation or return to our normal lives how are we supposed to continue to pursue freedom?
It’s time for us to pursue a freedom of being, a freedom that is accessible to everyone and helps improve the lives of everyone we meet. It’s a freedom that demands humility and practice, but rewards us with a flexibility of thinking and responding, unlike anything we’ve ever known.
If you’re ready for something new consider exploring what it would mean to let go of a fixed idea of who you are and embrace more of yourself not only to experience greater personal freedom and joy, but also so you can give more of what the world currently needs.
Which is people who are brave enough to stand up for something that comes from an authentic care for others and a willingness to not take things personally and instead do what most needs to be done.