Bird set free

Bird set free - image for article by Greg Alder

The sheriff gallops into town. He slides his horse to a stop and dismounts. He doesn’t exactly tie the horse’s lead to the hitching rail, but hastily and casually drapes it over the rail. He enters his office.

The horse could simply walk away at any time. It doesn’t. It doesn’t because it thinks it is tied to the rail.

We are that horse. You, me, every one of us. We are tied to this place, these circumstances, this present time by a force, more often imagined than real.

We are the rat on the race, the donkey circling the mill stone. We trudge on, unaware that we can step off the wheel or walk away from the yoke.

Whether we bundy on and bundy off from the braindead drudgery of a factory job or we are the owner of the factory, we feel we are trapped in this job. It doesn’t give us joy. It doesn’t reward us in any way. We wake, shower, dress, work, eat and sleep our way through this loveless life. A year becomes a decade becomes a career becomes a deathbed regret.

What held us there? What could we have done? What stopped us? Where did our lives go?

Here’s what holds most of us captive: our own fears.

We’re afraid to give up the security of regular income for the uncertainty of self-employment. We’re afraid that trying something new might jeapordise this modest current source of income. We’re afraid to step from something in which we have expertise to something at which we’re novice. We’re afraid of failure.

We feel trapped. We resent our entrapment. We keep our anguish to ourselves. In the song Bird Set Free, Sia writes, “There’s a scream inside that we all try to hide. We hold on so tight, we cannot deny. Eats us alive, oh it eats us alive.”

We have draped our own leads over the hitching rail.

Sir Ken Robinson writes about the importance of finding our element, the thing we were meant to do, the thing that truly gives us pleasure.

If what you’re currently doing to earn income doesn’t bring you joy, change it. Walk away.

Work through the process. Start by answering four questions.

What would you really like to do?

What’s stopping you from doing it?

What needs to be done to overcome those barriers?

What’s the first step?

Then take that first step.

I spent seven years in the 90s in a job that gave me a good income, but no joy. I was good at my craft. I did my job easily. I was on autopilot. They were hollow years.

I cannot get those years back again. They’re gone. But they have provided the motivation to throw myself into what I am doing now. I work for myself. I have four startups in development. One book written and others planned. I am travelling the country and the world helping business owners rediscover their creativity and use that creativity to reboot their businesses – and their lives. I am working harder than ever. And loving it.

I could earn more money and work less working for someone else. But I am free. And at the end of the day – or life – that’s more valuable, more rewarding than life in a cage.

So, ready to set yourself free?

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