Having spent only a couple weeks in Rome, I was already getting antsy. I couldn’t put my finger on it, this feeling of being trapped when I could walk where I wanted to walk, work from wherever I wanted to work from – in front of the Pantheon and the Colosseum and the Forum included – and , in a town I’d dreamt of visiting since Moses wore short pants. I was in Rome, halfway around the world, on the trip of a lifetime, and yet I felt claustrophobic, held back, confined to an area.
I couldn’t understand why I felt this way, it seemed entirely illogical, and then I rented a car.
In Rome I had to take the train. Sure I could walk, but walking was slower and even though that’s what I primarily did, you could only cover so much distance in a day. When I rented a car in Milan to drive to lake Como, as soon as I put that key into the ignition, I was free. I immediately rolled down the windows and started driving.
To compound this feeling of freedom I didn’t use a map. I just drove in the direction that the signs told me to drive in, weaving through the small towns that lined the roadside until I reached my destination, an even smaller town at the north-east portion of that beautiful lake.
First thing I did in that town, Menaggio, was buy an adapter so I could get the tunes from my iPhone blasting from the tiny little speakers in that tiny little car, a Fiat 500. From there I drove to Lake Lugano, then to the top of one of the surrounding mountains, and then a few days in, back to Milan to pick up a lady and extend that feeling of freedom to the water, so I rented a boat.
‘Twas only for an hour, but speeding through lake Como on a boat blasting past the “suggested” speed limit, wind in the hair, giddy smile on me face, I felt free.
Growing up I always wanted to do things my way. I was stubborn, and to my own detriment much of the time. Over the years I’ve learned the value of instruction, the value of apprenticeship and of advice from people who clearly know much more than I. The desire to do what I want, when I want, the desire for adventure, for risk, for excitement, though, has never faded, and that little example of Italy illustrates it best.
So what is “freedom”, and do we really want it and need it?
Does living a “free” life benefit you and your loved ones or does it do more to hurt them? Is freedom responsible or irresponsible? Is it selfish?
These are all valid questions that can be answered by a single reality that we are not idiots, each of us has a conscience, an idea of what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s best and what isn’t. We need advice a lot less than we think. We need mentors, by all means, but mentors in business or in writing, in woodwork, art, or selling. We need mentors to help us become better at our craft, yet far too many of us seek advice when we already know the answer.
What Freedom Isn’t
Freedom isn’t the freedom from responsibility. It’s not the absence duty. If anything freedom is the opposite, it’s the realization of responsibility and duty and the admission of it. Freedom is the declaration that you are responsible for your actions, your present, your past, and your future.
Freedom is also the right to make mistakes and to feel the weight of them. It’s the right to learn your own lessons and to struggle and rise above.
When many of us think of freedom we think of freedom from. That’s not what it is. Freedom is freedom to.
Why would someone want more responsibility?
It goes completely against human nature to want to take on more, to want to risk being blamed for more. We want freedom from responsibility and blame; that is, until we realize that a life of meaning, of accomplishment, of value, can only be realized when we control more of our own fate, and much of this begins with a simple change of our view of the world and our view of our own control over our world and our lives.
What’s Easy Isn’t Always What’s Best
Rarely is what’s easiest also what’s best for us and our development. Resistance and struggle help us become tougher, stronger, grittier, and more resilient. Walking somewhere is better for us than driving somewhere. Waking up early is better for us than sleeping in even in that it makes us a little more disciplined. And discipline is better for us than laziness.
If you want to be a better man. If you want to be more reliable, more dependable, more free-thinking, more audacious, even tougher, grittier, and if you want to accomplish more of value and be more of value, then take these aspects of developing freedom and bring them into your life.
The most important thing is action. It’s through action that we develop this mentality that nothing is impossible, that our future is in our hands and that our fears, no matter how great they may be, pale in comparison to our power.
7 Steps to Freedom
In years past you had to hop on a horse or a boat or simply walk if you wanted to experience a way of life beyond your culture and what you’ve been exposed to. Now we have planes, and flights are becoming a lot cheaper. Take advantage of this. Go to places that opposed your way of life, places that expose you to different ideas and ways of thinking.
Travel to places that will make you speechless. It’s great to see people and to meet different people, befriend them, talk to them, see life from their perspective, but nothing beats nature. Travel, and be alone. It’s in nature, in solitude that you’ll discover your true voice and strengthen it. Silence can be painful, but after a while it becomes liberating.
Free yourself from one perspective by traveling. Free yourself from dependence by traveling. Free yourself from this need of constant companionship by traveling. When you can survive and thrive on your own you’ll be of much greater service to the rest of us and to those you care about.
2. Develop Financial Intelligence and Discipline.
I’ve had many a conversation about money with many people. When you’re hanging out with them it’s those who are struggling financially that think far more about money than those who are doing well. Those who are doing well are typically talking about ideas and theories, money is the furthest thing from their mind.
If you don’t want that cloud hanging over your life of constantly fearing money or the possibility of having less of it, be careful with it and understand that you control it, it doesn’t control you.
Set up a budget. Stick to that budget. Don’t ever spend what you don’t have, don’t buy off of credit. Don’t lease a vehicle that you can’t buy outright. Don’t rationalize a purchase that you really shouldn’t make. Being wise with money is about discipline, but it also reflects how you view the world.
To be free, you have to be free from the notion that things and status have meaning.
Article: How to Budget Your Money
3. Live With A Purpose, Not For Things or Status.
If you want to be free from the clutches that debt can bring, if you want to be free to be who you are, or the man you want to become, a free man, your view of success may have to change.
Your definition of success can’t include status symbols. Status can’t be defined as the car you drive, where you live, the size of your house, or the watch on your wrist. When you give your success to an inanimate object that has no meaning, your success has no meaning. This is especially true when these things depreciate, even if not in value, in luster.
When you buy a new watch you initially wear it with pride. As time goes on you don’t even notice it. You may even get tired of it, wanting to swap it for another. Success can’t depreciate, it must appreciate. It has to compound and grow and evolve into something greater, and this appreciation has nothing to do with monetary value.
When your view of success is attached to a purpose or an ideal, you grow. You can’t help but continually evolve and move forward if how you view success is tied to a mission; something that benefits humanity or your family or simply something you’re trying to create.
At the very least define your success in relation to freedom.
Success may mean freedom from financial stress and worry. It may mean freedom to live wherever you want, travel whenever you want, help whomever you want. Success is freedom from stress, but also freedom to hustle and work on whatever gives you meaning. Define success with freedom as its companion and you’ll live a happier life. Define success purely on financial terms, and you’ll be a slave to the dollar.
Money has value, but its value is under your control. It can either bring freedom into your life, freedom from stress and worry, freedom to travel and give and matter. Or it can imprison you. However it effects you, though, is completely under your control.
4. Equip Your Body for Everything.
You wouldn’t go rock climbing without a harness or boxing without a mouthguard or scuba-diving without an air tank, so why would you live without endurance? Why would you exist without strength? Why on earth would you not equip your body for adventure? What sane man wouldn’t equip his body for life’s emergencies – those times when your kids or your wife need your help, you’d best be equipped to save them.
Train your body for the struggle that living is. Train your body to withstand anything that life throws at you. Most importantly, train your body to protect the ones you love.
If you have the capacity to do so, don’t waste this life living in a vessel that holds you back from adventure and excitement. Train as if your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on your conditioning, your strength, power, and endurance.
Don’t be relegated to the sidelines of this existence. Don’t confine yourself to mediocrity because you’re physically incapable of participating. Train for war, for battle, for a life that will be spoken of for eons.
5. Train Your Mind.
Part of training your body is training your mind. If you want to be truly free, allow yourself to suffer. If hardship comes your way don’t search for a bail out, a helping hand, someone to come into the rescue, do the tough thing and take it on your shoulders, finding a way out of it with the weight of said struggle on your back.
Train your mind in the gym by pushing through your workout, not quitting, aiming for one more set or one more rep. Engage in the mental battle that happens in the gym and don’t take a step back.
Train your mind by facing your fears. The only way to become a tougher man is to struggle through tribulation and extend the reach of your grasp by aiming higher and daring mightier. Face fears and be persistent and you’ll be free from the worry and terror that confines many to mediocrity.
6. Spend 60 minutes in Silence Everyday.
To be free to, we have to be free from some things. One such thing is manipulation. We have to know our true voice, our own desires and wants and ambitions. The problem is that we’re surrounded by noise and we’re constantly being influenced whether we acknowledge it or not, it’s there.
Spend time in silence at home or in nature. Clear your mind and find that true voice. You’ll find that you don’t need as much advice as you ask for, you typically know the answers, now have the courage to act on them.
Silence is important. There’s far too much noise in our world today. Grab a pen and a pad and write, read, but don’t turn on that computer or phone until you’ve spent some time in silence. Bring back your conscience, your warrior-voice, and rid yourself of the desires of others. Be free as you, not the freedom that someone else wants or wants for you.
7. Dare Mighty Things.
Freedom us useless if it’s within the confines of a mediocre, bland existence. Stay hungry and stay ambitious.
It’s your soul’s idea of what life is and what excites you. It’ll typically call you to face your fears or to embark on a frightening journey, but it’s a call you must heed.
How to Live FREE: An Exercise
We’ll end this article with an exercise, something that I do every year, and I’m set to do again tomorrow, that day of my birth that comes around once a year.
Take out a pen and a pad and write your perfect day; that is, the day you’d live if you had to live a single day for the rest of your life.
Be very specific in how you describe this day, some of these questions will help.
- Where do you live?
- Who do you live with?
- What do you do for work?
- Who are your clients?
- What time do you wake up?
- What do you eat?
- When do you workout?
Create your perfect day, then expand on it to make a perfect life. Things, of course, are never perfect. They can’t be. We need struggle, we need pain, just like we need happiness. But what would your perfect life consist of if you were completely free to live it?
How can you know what freedom truly is if you’re not planning to experience it?
Use the steps within the article to help you, then start creating your “freedom plan”. Create your life as you want it to be, then work on living it. No limitations in what you can accomplish, you’re free from mediocrity, free to Be Legendary, now set the scene and work to make it a reality.