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What is freedom?

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What is freedom?

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With 14 years of experience in marketing and extensive leadership, Stela changed her career path to one of her passion – personal development. She is an ICF Associate Certified Coach, being specialized in Career and Change management coaching.

What does freedom mean nowadays?

A few days ago, while entering the park with my daughter, like we do every morning, I remembered how several months ago we were strolling near the park and looking over the fence with a very strange feeling because we were not allowed to enter the park, since it was closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. At that time, there were a few people in the park taking care of the grass and the flowers and it looked nicer than ever. I was really hoping we would be allowed to enter the park by the time the linden trees would be in bloom. And yes, we were happy to be able to feel that awesome smell which reminded me of late spring and beginning of summer.

It is well known that we cherish more the things we lost or were not allowed to have, but this time, when I entered the park the first word that came to my mind was: freedom.

Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.

Ayn Rand, writer and philosopher

Lately, a lot of people have been talking about freedom.

Of course, after staying at home for some time, and with no open places to go out, it might seem our freedom had suffered.

Some people were blaming others for expressing their harsh opinions regarding the whole situation with the pandemic, attempting to limit their freedom of expression.

Many moved out from apartments and into houses with a backyard, in case of another quarantine enforcement, even if this meant they had to pay for these houses for the rest of their lives. In this case, we are talking about freedom of choice.

Having all of this in mind I decided that this time I would write about these 3 aspects of freedom: freedom of movement, freedom of expression, and freedom of choice.

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Freedom of movement

When we have been required to stay at home for two months, with a beautiful park just two minutes away, not being able to enter it and only look at it over the fence, was quite hard, having a 1-year old daughter who loved the swings and playing with other children.

Another issue was that my parents couldn’t travel to see their granddaughter and we couldn’t visit them either.

There was no place to go with a small child to play or just to relax. So, when we found out we could travel to Greece, even with all the necessary additional costs of tests and documents, I was sure I wanted to go, no matter what. It would have been the second year with no vacation at the seaside, and it was my last hope to see the sea this year. Luckily, we had a great vacation in Greece, even if some of our friends and relatives have tried to convince us not to go. This time I was really adamant about my freedom of movement.

The same applies when we talk about freedom of movement at our job. Even if there are a lot of circumstances that could stand in your way, finally it’s you who decides whether or not to move forward.

And by movement, I mean more options: staying at the same job, but evolving by learning new skills; moving laterally in another department by expanding your knowledge and experience; or moving vertically in a team leader job, by learning new abilities besides the functional ones.

You could say: it’s easy to say, hard to do. I believe the same amount of determination is required for all three options.

Even if there are challenges and competition for a certain role, if you really want it, you could get it. I have so many examples of people who started in a really small role and in a few years, they were in the top management of various companies.

Of course, it’s easier and faster with a mentor and a coach, than to fight for it alone. You can always find a mentor inside a company or an external one. Just ask your HR business partner for help and let your manager know about your intention.

In terms of coaches, a lot of companies have internal coaches, who are usually your colleagues from HR. Other companies invest additionally in coaching programs by hiring external coaches, who are specialized in different matters, like career, leadership, change management, etc.

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Freedom of expression

The freedom of expression is mainly used by journalists, or influencers when they have a conflict resulting from a certain subject from their texts or posts. At the same time, something similar happens in companies.

In any team, you can find someone who would express their opinion no matter what. It is the type of person who wouldn’t obey the rules, who would challenge the status quo as many times as possible and sometimes even if they don’t have anything authentic to say, or it’s just gossip, they still wouldn’t lose the chance to express their opinion loudly. If another team member were to try to temper them, the freedom of expression would be used by that person for sure in his/her defence. This is an extreme case.

Nowadays, modern companies tolerate, or even encourage people to say what they think and what they want, as this usually helps the business, or at least helps to generate new ideas or projects that would lead to business development.

We all know that doing things the same way would lead to the same results. In my experience, I always encouraged people from my team to express their thoughts, opinions and their career objectives. Only knowing what they really wanted and what they think about this or that project as well as the company strategy, would make my work easier in responding to what’s happening at that moment and working together towards better results.

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Freedom of choice

We can’t choose where we are born and who our parents are. We can’t choose our first home or kindergarten. What can we choose?

The first thing we can choose is our first word, when to make the first step, the favourite toy. Whether or not to sleep, whether or not to eat. Sweet or savoury. Cars or dolls. Cats or dogs. Scooter or bike. Biscuits or fruits.

Then, we can choose a high school, friends, fashion style, places we go, people we meet, books we read, bedtime hour, music genre, movies to watch. Car to drive, a home to live in, a partner to rely on, a pet, our kids’ names, food to eat, to do shopping, etc.

Maybe people make too many choices for their kids, and then when they grow up, it’s hard for them to make the right choices, as they are used to someone else choosing for them.

What about the job? Do we choose a job or the job actually chooses us?

Maybe we choose the area we want to develop in and we study that specific domain. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that if we choose a job, we will get it. Otherwise, we will not prepare thoroughly for an interview and we wouldn’t be nervous when entering the building to meet our recruiter. The only jobs that we can choose and have are freelancing jobs. And that’s a hard choice to do and requires courage and determination. You can read more about this in my article When is the right time for the next move.

Freedom, in any case, is only possible by constantly struggling for it.

Albert Einstein

So, what does freedom actually mean?

That you can run naked in the park, that you can laugh so loud that people passing by would turn their heads? Singing in the rain? Does freedom mean working from wherever you want?

For me, freedom means showing emotions. It is believed that if you show fewer emotions, you are in good control and have a good EQ. It might be good for the team, but what about you?

When was the last time you felt free just to express what you feel in that very moment, no matter who was near you? People who can show their emotions seem more authentic and reliable to me.

What does freedom mean to you?

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