Thursday, July 09, 2009

Breaking Free - Claim Your Freedom

Last weekend, America celebrated her freedom on Independence Day. This event got me to thinking about our personal freedoms and how precious this gift is to us. But how many of us that live in free countries actually take advantage of that freedom?

As I speak to many people all over the globe, I am realizing that it is individuals who choose to keep themselves bound by not making good choices or knowing that they have choices to make.

Let's look at your last performance review. If it is like most reviews, your supervisor will sit down with you and go over the areas of improvement. Sure, some will tell you what they think you are doing well, but in the end, your development plan will be based upon your weaknesses and how to fix or improve them.

"Down on the Farm"

If you'll bear with me, I have a short story I'd like to tell you. There once was this puppy named Sparky who was born on a large, beautiful farm. There were acres and acres of fields, a forest with trees and large rocks, a stream that flowed through the pastures, a large barn and farmhouse... everything you'd want on a farm. As the puppy grew up, she was encouraged to explore the different areas of the farm. At first, the Sparky wasn't allowed to stray too far from the farmhouse and barn, but later she had the full run of farm grounds. It was fantastic! She was free! Free to explore and grow, run and jump, climb and dig. She learned a lot of excellent dog skills and was a natural at many of them. Then, her owners taught her how to catch balls and Frisbees. She became a fine retriever as she learned how to 'mark' (watch for falling targets that she will later retrieve) and perform blind retrieves (where she has to rely on her owner to tell her where the target is located using a whistle and hand signals). She sure was good at this... maybe even one of the best. Retrieving made her happy; she seemed passionate about it. She was successful, still free to roam all over the farm, and loved to watch her owners take pride in her abilities.

Then, one day, Sparky's cousin pointed out that there was a fence that went all the way around the farm. He told her that if she really wanted to be successful, she'd find a away to get to the other side of the fence. For the first time, Sparky noticed the fence that went all the way around her incredible farm. It seemed to go on forever. Hmmm, she wondered... what was this? A barrier? Sparky became engrossed in the fence. Instead of practicing her retrieving and other skills, she would run off every morning and look for ways to get over, under or around the fence. She studied the fence (would've taken classes on the fence if she wasn't a dog.) She spent days trying to jump over it... weeks, trying to dig under it... months, trying to run around it. She didn't want to retrieve any more as she was determined to overcome this obstacle. Finally after years of trying, when she couldn't find a way to triumph over the fence, she resigned herself to being a old farm dog. She didn't even want to retrieve any more. And retrieving just didn't seem to be as fun, especially knowing that she failed at overcoming the fence.

Freedom is in your strengths

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