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!