I know, you thought the series was over, but I got requests for more–and I’m a sucker for requests. (Especially when it comes to solving business problems.)
If there was just one thing that was holding you back–just one thing–would you want to know what it is? No matter how uncomfortable the truth made you? That’s what this epilogue is about.
There’s a theme that runs through the Cut the Bullshit series. Let’s review what we talked about.
Part one was about how all hiring mistakes, like most business problems, you can reduce to the unwillingness to face discomfort.
Part two showed how, unless you discover the self-interest of an employee, you can never expect them to be fully engaged.
Part three was about how you’re not qualified to complain about anything in others when you embody those issues yourself.
Part four explored how supervising around employees’ issues instead of managing them directly is the cause of most people problems.
Part five called bullshit on quick-fixes to business problems and how we cause ourselves suffering by expecting results to come easily.
Do you see the theme?
It’s about embracing truth and accepting consequences to solve your business problems.
Everything has a price, but people will do anything to avoid paying it. Let me explain.
Most people spend their entire lives pursuing “freedom.”
Stop reading right now and take a minute to write down your definition of freedom.
You’ll learn something important.
Don’t worry, I can wait. Okay, did you write it down?
Most people define it more or less as “Being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.”
Do you know anyone who enjoys this kind of freedom? Someone beyond all boundaries or constraints? Beyond the need to manage money or people? Beyond the need to eat and sleep? Beyond the need to abide by the laws and social agreements of their culture? Beyond the inevitably of death?
Of course you don’t.
In other words, the notion of freedom that most people have has no referent in reality whatsoever, except in rarified spiritual states that adults cannot functionally live in. This ought to scare you a little.
So, we’re compelled to ask the question, “If this state is completely impossible for a human to attain, from where does this absurd idea of freedom come?”
There are two answers: one that comes from a good place, and the other a wounded one.
The light side of the answer is this yearning for freedom is the seed in each of us that longs to touch the infinite, the boundless, on a spiritual level–to know God, to enlighten, to be whole with the wholeness of the universe, whatever that means to you. But again, such places do not exempt you from the day-to-day boundaries of human life.
The shadow side of the answer is that you didn’t get what you needed as a child. It’s as infants we need to feel completely accepted as we are, totally cared for with no responsibility, totally dependent without a worry in the world. We’re supposed to learn that boundaries are a good and safe thing for us by getting everything we need. But unless you had perfect parents, you didn’t get that (and there are no perfect parents.)
The result is a fixation, a codependent relationship to freedom, a yearning. A codependent need is just a dependent (childhood) need that was never met. So to the degree you weren’t able to completely let go and be free (relatively) with your parents, is the degree to which you’re looking for that child-like version of freedom as an adult (which will never happen, therefore causing you suffering).
- You want people to accept you as you are when it comes to attributes in you that don’t work. When you could be happy that people give you negative feedback and use the pressure to change.
- You want your goals and dreams to come true without having to be uncomfortable, do difficult things, or evolve as a person.
- And you don’t want to endure the kind of learning that comes through fierce consequences when you’re not in the flow of life, even though it’s obvious that we learn the most through adversity and pain.
In other words, you don’t want to have to be completely responsible–only when it suits you. You want to pay the prices that are comfortable for you. The tragic irony is that this is the cause of all of your personal and business problems. But most people will try to solve these problems looking through the how do I handle this without having to take any more responsibility lens, rather than the in what way is my lack of responsibility the core issue here one, which is inevitably the case.
Your notions of boundarylessness, ultimate freedom, being able to do whatever you want whenever you want. These are childhood fixations. Do your work on yourself, grow up, learn how to pay for what you get, and get what you want.
Or… Stay the same, kicking and screaming like a child who wants to have their cake and eat it, too.
The freedom humans uniquely enjoy is that you have the option to choose either. No other animals seem to have this choice. But you cannot escape the negative consequences of choosing the childlike relationship to freedom, just as you will be happy you cannot escape the positive rewards of growing up.
Business Problems’ Antidote Is Inevitably Responsibility
That’s the good news! Life rewards responsibility. You know this already. You’ve experienced how hard work pays off. The problem is in the realms where you’re stuck, where you “don’t wanna.” Where there’s fear, or pain, or some reminder of a past trauma. And this shows when business problems rear their ugly head.
These kinds of stuck places can take years to work out–so you might as well get started. It takes courage, hard work, and a willingness to take a hard look at yourself.
Whatever you want, there’s a price to pay. If you haven’t gotten what you wanted, it’s probably because you’ve not yet been willing to pay that price.
Determine that price, and pony up the payment. Stop whining about how hard life is. It’s hard. We know. Do you think a cheetah curses to itself when it uses two days of food-energy only to be outrun by a 70 mph antelope? Does a gorilla obsess about what hard work foraging for food is every day and dream of getting eat out for every meal? Does an ant weep over the challenge of carrying things many times its bodyweight?
No, these creatures operate inside their limits and thrive, but at the same time they push themselves and work. They pay the prices that are a part of their limits and keep going, without extra commentary, extra energy, or extra suffering.