Freedom and Responsibility

America’s birthday this month marks many decades of growth and progress, and yet we have a long way to go towards fulfilling our potential.

Viktor Frankl once suggested that in addition to the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast, America should erect a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast. Perhaps by this he meant we cannot ever know true freedom until we are willing to accept full responsibility for our actions and our choices.

liberty

Photo Credit: Thunderstorm in NY by Marco Fedele

In these times of conflict where examples of negative behavior seem to exist everywhere, ultimately the only person we can change is ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi’s famous words were to “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

In a recent TRP workshop, this idea was illustrated for us by a participant. She shared her O-FLAG (Opportunity For Learning And Growth) story with us:

She had young children and came in early to get work done so she could leave early and spend time with them. However, her manager would typically come by her desk late in the afternoon and “check-in.” The conversations with her manager always seemed to stall her plans and nearly every time she’d be “stuck!” She was growing frustrated. She wanted her manager to change the routine… she wanted her workplace to change the rules for her… She wanted everyone else to change so she could get what she wanted!

Instead, she changed herself.

She slowed down and allowed the mornings to become quality time with her children. Instead of coming early, she would come to work on time, get her work done, and leave on time. When she came home, she was fully present and she didn’t feel guilty about it. She was more focused at home, and more productive at work. It was the personal adjustments she made – it was the freedom to choose how she felt and what she could do about it that made all the difference.

Exercising our power of choice is not insignificant during these times of tension and challenge. Let’s be the change that we wish to see in the world.

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