I’m in the middle of reading one of the most amazing books I’ve read in a long long time called “In the Plex” – this is a story about Google and an insider look into a lot of things that they have done.

It has amazing insights into the ambition and daring of its founders, and the thing that hit me again and again is how free they are from the grips of conventional thinking. They and their team thought of everything in a new light, and came up with solutions from the ground up for so many things in so many areas that everyone was shocked including the incumbents in that field.Why didn’t Honda or Toyota develop a car that runs on its own?

Their thoughts and ideas don’t appear to be bound by tradition or convention, and I was reminded of these great lines that Steve Jobs delivered in a Stanford Commencement address:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

It feels like these visionary men have a kind of freedom of thought that many of us strive towards in one way or another. We want to do novel things, break the shackles of the old way, and do something new and innovative.

That kind of freedom of thought is something that is grand, idealistic, even poetic, and it is worthy of a struggle to attain. But, there are lesser, more mundane freedoms that we strive for, and are worth the struggle.

Freedom from debt is a struggle that a lot of people are engaged in. I personally know a few people who have endured hardships due to the debt that they have or had in the past, and there is nothing more in the world that they would like than to live a debt free life, and not have to worry about the next house payment or business loan payment.

It’s not poetic, but it’s very real, and makes a very real impact on their life.

Our attempt to make ourselves more knowledgeable about the world, and understand our surroundings in a better light is a daily struggle. We go through several hours of reading, watching the news and talking to people for just one thing – to understand things a little better than how we understand them today.

Many of you feel a special kind of tingling when you learn something new – it makes you feel a certain way, it lights up a smile on your face. I feel it’s the reward for our freedom from ignorance. It’s the reward of a small victory won in a battle that we wage life long.

Then there are more personal struggles – the war that some of us wage to quit living a life that’s dependent on your next pay check. The freedom to aspire to a life where you don’t have to worry about getting your next pay check to pay your current bills. This is a meaningful struggle that will help you do something more with life than just stumbling through it.

Everyone knows what a difficult thing it is to overcome your fears. The fear of being wrong, the fear of looking like a fool in a room full of people, the fear of criticism, the fear of paying too much, the fear of paying too little, and every other kind of fear you can think of.

Of all the things that we fight against – fear has to be one of the biggest ones. It is as personal as it can be – no one can truly understand how you feel when you’re scared, and for a lot of things we would much rather not have others know of our true fears. Liberating yourself from one of your fears is a sweet sweet victory.

Sometimes, the fight is to make the world a better place, you donate blood, you spend time with your maid’s son teaching him English, you donate money to causes, you conserve water, you save paper, – you know your efforts are like a drop in the ocean, but you also know that mighty oaks from little acorns grow. You want to free the world of illiteracy, disease, and malaise. It is your struggle just as it is everyone else’s.

As I sit here, thinking about the meaning and nature of freedom, I feel that we wage daily struggles for freedoms against ignorance, fear, tradition, authority, hunger, poverty, and disease among many others, but we don’t pause enough to think if there is a shackle that we should be trying to free ourselves that we aren’t?

This is a good day to think about it.

Happy independence day!

12 thoughts on “Freedom”

  1. Hi Manshu.
    Once again .. a beautiful post.
    Could connect to each and every word since it was exactly what i am feeling or rather going through off late. It is indeed sad that Entrepreneurship is not promoted in our country the way it should be for a developing nation .

    We are raised with the idea that we need to work hard so that one fine day we get a good ( read secure) job. Study well so that one gets admission in either IIT/ IIM etc. Get the degree so that you get placed in a MNC with a good pay packet. So that you can have a comfortable life… doesnt matter even if the ‘LIFE’ part of it ceases to exist.

    Would end by saying..

    Each one of us has their own battles to fight. The only focus should be to keep fighting each day and emerge victorious.

    Happy Independence Day 🙂

  2. Wonderful and inspiring post! Wish the Indian education system and society will change its convential thinking. America is land of entrepreneurs for simple reason their education system and society encourages independent thinking.

    1. I was talking to a friend over the weekend who did some volunteer work and went to teach a junior class at a school Harinee, and she was totally surprised by the level of questions they were asking. She said that they weren’t shy to ask any questions and were not shy at all. I think the focus is to encourage questions and critical thinking at a very early age.

  3. Hey Manshu, tell us the truth… Do you have insider information on Google?? What else explains a post on Google and hours later Google announcing a major deal! 🙂 Happy Independence Day to you too

    1. haha, I wish I did! To top it – I’m right now reading the section about Google’s entry in the phone business and how Steve Jobs felt betrayed with Google’s decision to get there and make a phone that was like the iPhone.

  4. It requires a great thought to think where we are standing and where we want to be. One should fight against things which are stopping us from reaching and achieving things !!!!!

    1. I guess recognizing that there are such things is the first thing, and then fighting against it – I have a feeling fighting it will be harder than recognizing them.

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