Rousseau said, “Man is born free but everywhere is in chains.”
In this newsletter, I want to talk not about socio-political freedom, but something deeper – the freedom to choose how we live.
Today, you live carrying a heavy burden. So do I.
This burden is the expectation of success. And not just any success, but crazy success, on steroids, achieved instantly.
If you are an entrepreneur, you have to be a unicorn – else you might as well not exist. If you want to count as wealthy, you have to be a billionaire. And you better do all this while in your teens.
But even that is not just it. As long as you achieve crazy success, you can do it at any cost – abuse your employees or squeeze your customers – none of that matters.
Mind you – I am not against being ambitious. Ambition is a wonderful thing if that is what you seek. It is what drives progress and growth.
But ambition becomes a problem when it is unhinged from reality and ethical, legal, or moral imperatives. When the expectations are unrealistic, the roadmap also becomes unrealistic. That is when people cheat, cut corners, and take shortcuts.
Unfortunately, everything today has to be faster, bigger, and shinier.
When you start measuring yourself against these crazy benchmarks, you develop a constant sense of angst that you are not enough – no matter how good a job you are doing.
There is a feeling of always being rushed as if there is no time for anything. If you take a few years to master your core skill, you feel guilty because you should learn everything in 30 days. You feel stupid if you experiment with things that don’t work out. The value of the journey is totally degraded.
Even when trying really hard, a sense of failure looms over your head because it feels too slow.
At a personal level, my job at HabitStrong is to create programs that can change your lives. The next program I am creating is on handling anxiety disorders and stress. And I could never do that if I did not take the time to read several books on psychology and neuroscience over the past few weeks. Nothing happens instantly.
So how do we walk out of the cage? It is easy – the door is open. Just walk out.
Drop the expectations. Give yourself time to figure things out. Invest time to master the skills you care about – even if it takes years. Life has no deadlines.
Once you say no to the compulsive hurry, you are out of the cage.
Then you are free to explore, to experiment and even fail, and to learn – you are genuinely free.
Grab and cherish that freedom. Don’t let anyone take it away. In the long run, this is how you create real success. There are no shortcuts.
Wishing you a great life journey.