As I reflect in my personal and professional spheres, these two words keep coming up and I thought I will put a simple model around this two words. To give a background, most of the TV’s in some of my friends’ home are cut as their kids are giving their exams. I keep debating with them on why are they practicing this kind of control and why don’t they give them the ‘freedom’ to be ‘responsible? They give me a cold blooded stare and tell me without blinking an eye ‘Let your turn come man’ and then we shall have this debate. Well, I have been proven wrong many a times and when my time comes I have a feeling that I will operate no differently.
I pondered over these two variables and kind of arrived at a simple model as below.
The assumption here is ‘Freedom’ is given to me by someone and ‘Responsibility’ is taken by me. There are equivalent derivatives of responsibility like accountability, but as the beautiful culture lens below reveal, accountability was not a word till the early eighty’s. So someone possibly discovered it for some convenience and as like many other words, this word has been marketed well and its usage possibly will exceed responsibility in the coming decades. However for the purposes of this discussion responsibility encompasses accountability. Also in the circle of life I wear the various hats of giver and taker for freedom and responsibility. https://books.google.com/ngrams/interactive_chart?content=Responsibility%2CAccountability&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=2&share=&direct_url=t4%3B%2CResponsibility%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bresponsibility%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BResponsibility%3B%2Cc0%3B.t4%3B%2CAccountability%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Baccountability%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BAccountability%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BACCOUNTABILITY%3B%2Cc0
Personally, I like this state. This is a state where I am happily in a cage, knowing that there is little freedom and there is little willingness or scope to take responsibility. This is a state where I am perpetually trapped and where neither I take any steps to move along the responsibility axis nor does the environment around me take any step to move along the freedom axis. As long as I chose to be cog in the wheel, this is a peaceful state to be in. No questioning of status quo! I like this state because this is where I have accepted that I cannot do a thing and possibly remain blissful about it. I also put people into this state. A live example is as follows
Son – Appa, Can I go to play?
Me – Yes, of course. But before that please ensure the following
· Finish your homework
· Clean your desk
· Practice Music
· Drink Milk
· Do not play near this…
· Do not play with ….
· Be back before 6:00 PM
And the time will be kind of between 5:30 to 5:45 PM when the conversation happened
It really is a Hobson’s choice. Isn’t it?
This is the state where I fight the lack of freedom. I want to take on more, prove my worth to my stakeholders in every aspect of my life but I do not just get the space to exhibit my sense of responsibility. I am like the tiger in the cage, who wants to get out desperately, but will continue to make hurried strides with the cage. I can relate to the TV example here, when the kids say they are willing to watch it in moderation with responsibility and I deny them that freedom. I think in professional life there are countless instances where I would have killed many vibrant dreams possibly without giving the space for exploration of that dream. I would have accumulated bad karma by the sheer volume of people whom I would have pushed into this state! My only defense is, well I was not mature enough to have understood this explanation at that time!
This is the state where I deceive myself completely and I kind of act as if I am unaware. I will find out all possible excuses on ‘how not’ to accomplish an objective be it personally or professionally. The sheer variety and diversity of excuses that I can come up on ‘why I will not do something’ and conveniently shift the blame on everything around me can open up a category in the ‘Nobel prize for excuses’. A simple example is ‘weight management’. I am obese and I can convince anyone in the world to agree with my view point of why I find exercise boring in a face to face meeting. (I am kind of shifting from this view point off late, but I am positive that I will go back into my erroneous zones). In a professional setup, sometimes I wonder the time I spend on explaining and preparing on why I could not meet a commitment far exceeds the time I could have invested in making the commitment happen. If you want to test this, keep a repository of excuses that people give when they fail to show up for meetings on time and you would possibly smile at the point I am making.
This is the state of where I am in complete harmony with myself. I have felt that this is the state where I am trusted, no one is watching by back and I am fully aware that ‘The buck stops with me’. I have nothing to prove to nobody except my own self. This is the state where the mix of freedom and responsibility is optimal and that allows me to bring out the best in myself. Coming back to the ‘weight management’ example, the day I do get to step on the dreaded tread mill and beat my previous pathetic record of the 5K run, I feel liberated and for that one micro second I do feel light. The days I have stepped in and attempted to change status quo for betterment, I have felt this state. It did not matter if I change status quo or not, but took the call to change the status quo. You would have been possibly in this state when someone uttered to you ‘Take Care’.
There is a box in the middle termed ‘Mid life Crisis’ and sometimes I have felt that I am in perpetual ‘Mid life Crisis’. I have to admit that till certain stage in life, I was not aware of these two variables. In my view ‘Mid life Crisis’ sets in when I am hopelessly confused about the relative positions of these two variables in my respective spheres of life. But the question I have repeatedly asked myself is, even after I became aware of these variables and their relative positions, did I exercise the choice to move along the axis to become truly liberated?
Any such complex question has only one answer. ‘It Depends’, but to end philosophically, “Are we not the sum total of the choices we make”?
As far as the TV problem which made me to get into this mess, the Jury is still out.
So which state you typically are in?
Are there any other states that you think given these two variables ?
Which state do you put your folks in, be it professional or personal?
Time to ponder