The Freedom Paradox – Millennials in Business

Accountability has been an issue for humans for a long time, but it’s recently becoming stickier for a reason that may make you roll your eyes: Millennials.

Hold on, I’m not running them down like so many do. Everything has a light side and a shadow.

Generally speaking, millennials are entrepreneurial, highly creative, incredibly positive, and see possibilities that very well may save the human race from its own self-destruction. But these traits inevitably create challenges like impatience, difficulty focusing, and an aversion to boundaries. Millennials love freedom and so wrestle more than most with what I call the “Freedom Paradox.”

What do you think freedom is? How would you define it? Take thirty seconds and do so right now.

Most people say something like, “Being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.” Maybe you did, too, and that’s okay. It comes from our childhood and cultural conditioning, but not from critical thinking.

Critical thinking shows you there’s not a single person in the history of the world who enjoyed that kind of freedom.

As Voltaire—and yes, Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, too—said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The more money you have, the more responsibility you have to manage it. Hire someone to do so? Who manages them? You do. You need to sleep, eat, stay clean, etc. These are all boundaries.

Oh, and eventually you will die: that’s the ultimate boundary.

There is no escape from boundaries. Tragically, many people start businesses in the pursuit of boundarylessness they think comes when they don’t have when they work “for” someone else. What they discover is that being a boss means more boundaries, not less, than having a job.

I’ve known about this for a decade, and I’m still experiencing the shock right now, as my business expands and I find myself feeling less free. It’s what happens when one’s immature relationship to freedom is flushed out.

The lesson for many leaders and even more millennials is this: freedom happens within boundaries, not without. Until this lesson is learned, you see things like the following, especially in millennial business cultures:

  • Chronic overwhelm from the unwillingness to say “no” to opportunities and frequent changes of mind from leadership
  • Lack of accountability because managers don’t want to be “the boss” and employees think they’re operating in a consensus environment
  • Unclear roles and responsibilities because people don’t want to be boxed in, often exacerbated by friendships inappropriately transacted in the workplace
  • Managers who swing from “nice guy” to tyrant because their need to be liked stops them from giving negative feedback early on

These are all issues that have challenged entrepreneurs for a long time. Because millennials have an entrepreneurial spirit, they have these challenges in spades. If any generation is going to clean up the mess that our world has become, it’s going to be the millennials. And the price they surely need to learn along the way is that nothing comes without a price, and freedom means choosing to pay for what you get.

What freedom truly is and how to realize you already have it is one of the results you’ll get in my new course which starts tomorrow.

As a reminder, this is your LAST chance to sign up for Accountability, Metrics, Money, and Shame: Get Better Results by Living in Reality. Want to learn more? Click here.

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