Somedays, I agree with Nassim. Others I don’t.
In a world as large and complex as ours, we human beings have to organise to make the most effective use of our talents and abilities. To organise, there typically has to be a hierarchy or system that determines duties and responsibilities. Perhaps the gig economy will result in a world where everyone works for themselves, and we all exist outside of hierarchies. I’ve seen this prophesied in too many articles by too many people to remember where I first saw it. But it hasn’t happened quite yet.
Organisation has both positives and negatives. But there’s one drawback I want to focus on today. One of the most insidious things about a traditional job is that you cannot be the arbiter of your own time, energy and attention. The job’s responsibilities, or more likely, the superior who hovers the axe above your neck in return for performance, dictates where you allocate these three precious resources.
In every book I’ve read that talks about success, about freedom, about effectiveness, there seems to be a common formula. Finding freedom allows you to find purpose, and once you have found purpose, you have a responsibility to fulfil it. Freedom to purpose to responsibility. This is quite an important concept. Let’s look at freedom, the first step.
One aspect of freedom is found in the ability to decide how you distribute your time, energy and attention. If someone dictates how you must spend your day, you are not free. If someone controls where you must exert your energy, you are not free. If someone says you must focus on this, not that, you are not free. In that respect, most employees are not free. They are stripped of their freedom. And without this freedom, they can never make it to the second stage of our pathway. Without the freedom to decide how to use your time, energy and attention, you cannot find purpose.
Viktor Frankl has this concept called the existential vacuum. Someone feels their life has no purpose. That there is no meaning in their existence on this planet. You can imagine the havoc imposed on an individual afflicted with that outlook. Lethargy. Pessimism. Unhappiness. Stress. Anxiety. A life without love or meaningful contribution.
A life lived without purpose. It’s not a disease that is unique to our century. But purpose can only be unearthed when you have the freedom to dig for it. How do you attain this freedom? Don’t ask me. I’m still working on the answer.
But I do know this. You must begin to judge where your time, energy and attention goes. You must kick and claw and fight against anyone or anything that tries to strip them from you. Until you can decide how to use these valuable resources, you are not free.
I guess today is one of those days where I agree with Nassim.