Freedom. A term that many of us have honestly taken for granted. What does it really mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, freedom is the quality or state of being free: such as, the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. If we look to the Declaration of Independence, in the concluding paragraph, it states in part:
“That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Considering this, if you think about it….freedom only exists if you exercise it. Like a muscle, if you don’t exercise freedom, it will atrophy. The core foundation of freedom is Conscious Choice. The best way to exercise your Freedom Muscle is to practice Conscious Choice, in every moment of every day. It’s just that easy!
But wait…if it’s that easy, why aren’t we all doing it? Ahhhhhhhh, here’s the catch: freedom comes with baggage called Responsibility and Accountability. While many view these as heavy, undesirable baggage; I propose the opposite. This baggage is actually light and will in fact create more freedom rather than detract from it! Freedom is, at it’s core, Anabolic Energy, built on the foundation of Conscious Choice! Remember, Anabolic Energy is healing, uplifting, creative, and inspirational energy! When Responsibility and Accountability are linked with Freedom and you exercise this daily, you choose to respond rather than react. Every time you choose your attitude/energy, you are exercising your Freedom Muscle!
As Leaders, this is a critical principle to not only remember but practice, practice, practice! The most effective, collaborative leaders are those that nurture self-awareness and have developed strong Freedom Muscles. There is no reason to fear Accountability or Responsibility because every outcome is an opportunity to learn, grow and improve.
What kind of shape is your Freedom Muscle in? Are you exercising it daily with Conscious Choice? Are you choosing your responses or are you allowing circumstances to choose for you? If you find that your Freedom Muscle isn’t as developed as you’d like, here are some tips to get back into tip-top shape:
1. When you feel emotions rising up, PAUSE > BREATHE > REFRAME.
2. Ask yourself, “How appropriate is my emotional reaction to this situation?”
3. When tempted to give up your opportunity to choose, ask yourself WHY you are
willing to do so? In what way will this weaken or strengthen your Freedom Muscle?
4. Embrace outcomes and decisions as opportunities to learn rather than judging
them as good/bad or success/failure.
Coaching Leaders know that frequent 1:1’s with their direct reports, informal sessions with a focus on support, are the best opportunities to increase performance and foster growth. As noted by authors Kouzes and Posner, “When people believe that you have their interests at heart – that you care about them – they’re more likely to be open to your influence.” 3 Key tips to conduct awesome and inspiring 1:1’s: + Make it about them. Your primary focus is how you can support them, remove obstacles, provide feedback , etc. Let them drive the conversation. + Actively listen to what they say and what they don’t say. Share your insights and always ask if you’re spot on or way off. They will tell you! + Ask them in what ways can you better support them. This isn’t about reducing responsibility or doing their work for them, it’s about how you can best be their champion, advocate, the person clearing the runway for them. Supported employees are confident employees!
You are a successful leader. You don’t need to invest in yourself at this point in your career, right? You are busy, your plate is over flowing, you don’t have time for such frivolous activities, right? WRONG!! The truth is you cannot afford not to be a lifelong student of Leadership. Taking on a mastery mindset allows you to continue to learn, grow and excel. One of the best ways to do that is by attending a leadership workshop with other successful, like-minded leaders. We are happy to partner with Academy Leadership, LLC in Kansas City, MO to offer the Leadership Excellence Course (LEC). Don’t delay, register for the August session now!
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