Fear of Freedom


I'm a self defined "free-Spirit."  No, I wasn't at Coachella this weekend.  There are too many people there for me; it isn't "free" enough.  I've spent much of my adult life trying to setup a situation where I can wear what I want, do what I want, keep the hours I want and "be myself." (And get a decent amount of time on the lacrosse field each week).  Of course that led me to leave an international recruiting firm, and start my own. 

I've never been one to relish a CRM.  At first, I thought it was the systems themselves I hated.  So I switched, and I switched, and I switched...  (and finally landed on Zoho, which I like as much as I can).  Until I realized it was the very essence of the CRM that I hated.  I hated logging my activities. It felt very nerdy and big brothery... ("Dear Diary, I called a client today,"  sigh.)  

I just wanted to do my activities as they came to mind with my characteristic "style." 

Same thing with ATS systems.  I prided myself on having candidate information memorized, sometimes even emails and phone numbers.  Candidates find my "did I remember to follow up with you?" emails charming (I hope.)  And when I finally did bite the bullet and create a system, I was doing data entry largely from memory. 

You see, that's because I'm a "free spirit" with "great instincts for this business."  So "shooting from the hip, that's what I do."  

And then my company grew.  

When I was speaking to my business coach last week, I was explaining my predicament.  I needed to create a uniform system for my team but I didn't want to be "bogged down by the boring stuff."  

And then he blew my mind. 

"Ah.  I see." he said.  In an Australian accent as thick as Vegemite.  "You're afraid of freedom." 

"Nononono.  You don't get it," I said.  "I'm a free spirit... that's why I don't like organizational tasks."  

"Nope."  

"Yup."

"Nope.  You refuse to give yourself a clear space for your creativity to flow by creating an organized environment.  You're scared of thinking clearly and really operating at your potential."

Silence on my end of the line. I had to think about this.  

The next day, I met with a group of women who I get to see once a month.  We speak about being better people, better women, better everything. (And then... wine!)  One friend has a child in a Waldorf school.  She was explaining how in this school, kids aren't given homework until the 5th grade. 

"You see.  Up until the 5th grade the parents have to create a structure... a rhythm... so that the kids can be free to be creative." 

Having friends who actually believe in unschooling... I was a little taken aback. 

"The rhythm, the ability to feel safe and orderly, this is what allows kids to reach their full potential."

Ok Universe, same message two days in a row.  I'm listening. 

You see, the structure creates efficiencies.  Efficiencies cut down the static in your thinking.  Static-free thinking leads to breakthroughs in creativity.  And giving one task your full attention is the best way to do that task well. 

I find it funny that the aspect of myself I naturally used as an excuse for not being efficient was the thing I was terrified of.  Interesting.   

I write a lot about business and recruiting because I want to see women in the workplace reach their full potential.  Do you have a way of identifying your "strengths" that is actually holding you back? Leave it in the comments below!