The Illusion of Freedom

Freedom is one of the buzz words in today’s society. Everyone wants freedom from something; a job, an employer, drugs, alcohol and many other things. But what we don’t realise is that life is a game of trade-offs, you give up one thing in order to get something else. 

While I was still employed at Student Village, I used to immerse myself in every project that was handed to me. I was so passionate about what I did that whenever I’d meet someone and happened to talk to them about my job, they would assume that I was the owner of the company I worked for. Although that was nice, I thought that didn’t resonate with the freedom that I wanted.

I left Student Village, obviously not because I wanted freedom, but simply because I felt in my heart that I was ready to start and grow my own business. However, the concept of freedom always made me think. 

I thought about why people think that working for yourself gives you more freedom than working for someone else. Upon thinking about it, I began to realise that the concept of freedom can sometimes be an illusion. It’s an illusion because it’s all in the mind. Yes, I felt a lot more free working for myself than I did working for Student Village, but the truth is that I was a lot more of a slave now that I worked for myself than I was when working for SV.

I gave up working for someone else, technically, not being “Free” in the sense that we all understand – working a 8-5 job, but I enslaved myself further by starting my own business. I now had to worry about things I never used to worry about at SV. I now had to worry about suppliers, payroll, rent, overheads, employees, customers, marketing, sales, finance, ADMIN, etc – things I never directly worried about while I was an employee.

It then dawned on me that I no longer had the luxury of working only 8 – 5, Monday till Friday,  I now had to work 24/7, 365 days a week. I now had to be working even when I’m asleep. This then mad me realise that we all choose the type of freedom we want, and as glamorous as entrepreneurship looks from afar, the concept of receiving freedom from it is actually very far – especially at the beginning. In entrepreneurship, you work harder than you do in a job, sometimes for no pay – in the beginning.

The more successful you become, the more people demand your time, your team, your bankers, your accountants, your customers, your friends, family, and frenemies.

The truth of the matter is that we choose the type of freedom we want, but we aren’t really entirely free from working, if we are diligent beings. In disciplining ourselves as business owners, we actually put in more hours than most of our employees… In the beginning it is so, but at least now it’s not only you who’s benefiting – your employees do, your investors do, your clients do. You have simply grown your value, from benefiting only yourself to benefiting many others, only because you chose a different type of freedom or slavery, depending how you look it.

Freedom can be a matter of perspective. Think about it. It’s like if someone was captured by a certain strong man, and tied to a tree – tormented, then someone stronger than the strong man comes to the rescue, beating up the strong man and freeing the person. Is the person free? Yes, but his freedom still depends on the one that freed him. We could say he’s no longer a slave to the strong man, but still a slave of the man who freed him, although the man would always let him to go free. It’s all about the type of slavery that person will choose, the strong man or the stronger man. Hard work, or harder work? Shorter hours, or 24 hours of work? Just an employee or an exceptional partner?

What works for you? Whatever it is, you give up one for the other. Nothing is free, there’s always a price to pay.

I wish you success.

Kind Regards,

Witness Mdaka,

CEO, Quality Growth International

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