Freedom From vs. Freedom For

As a follow-up to the Primer Regarding Fulfillment post, I’d like to address each of the three aspects of the “triangle of fulfillment” —  Free, Fitting, and Powerful.

First, I’d like to address Free or Freedom. (And let us recognize and not belabor, that this conversation is against the background of bringing one’s fundamental talents and gifts to bear — one’s “DNA of Fulfillment”.)

The starting place for a more powerful relationship to Freedom begins by seeing through our unconscious associations with Freedom, which have the flavor of “Freedom From” — freedom from wants, needs, interference, constraints, fear, etc. (“If only those things weren’t in the way, I would be free….”)

This is generally an unrealistic image and ideal that ironically leads to a lack of freedom by having us wait for the circumstances to conspire for and allow the next developmental expression, contribution, or engagement. Rarely do the circumstances conspire for your next fitting accomplishment — at least not fully enough to be considered “freedom from” constraints. (Most waiting is unnecessary. There is almost always something worthwhile that can be moved forward in support of the next accomplishment.)

As an axiom, it is wise to consider that both real development and real accomplishment do not take place in the environment or room provided. They exceed that room. They are “presumptuous” relative to how one is being related to. They are “disruptive” of the culture and status quo in that they call for some new qualitative dimension not normally engaged in the culture of relations (including the relation with oneself).

Real development and real accomplishment call for something new, more whole, and more fulfilling. And those two are deeply related: Development allows for new accomplishment, and new accomplishment calls for development.

As a side note, the link between development and accomplishment is quite important and avoids the extremes of “navel gazing” (attempted development without accomplishment) or pure “busyness” (attempted accomplishment without development).

In a corporate setting, any breakthrough in accomplishment ought to be considered in the light of the required development of the people involved — where the new power will come from for the accomplishment. In other words, the hypnosis of activity management needs to be broken and an integration of human development/ cultural development and organized and managed activity is called for.

On an organizational level, imagine this integration to call for a Chief Development Officer with equal status and power as the Chief Operations Officer and that no large increase in accomplishment would be taken on that isn’t aligned upon by both, with some clarity about the role each will provide to the accomplishment. Development provides the power, operations the organization and focus and application of the power to outcomes. Communication between the two aspects throughout is necessary for correction, and hence accomplishment.

On a more personal level, the connection of development and accomplishment is equally related. If one can tell what accomplishment is called for next in one’s life, it is possible to listen for the area of development that will be necessary to provide the requisite power for that accomplishment. If one starts with an area of development that has been seen to be missing and needed, one can select an inspiring accomplishment that would both call for, focus, and indicate progress along that direction of development.

This brings us to the place of Freedom in fulfillment. In listening for the next called-for, fitting accomplishment and the next called-for area of development, one key is to address having the “freedom for” moving in that direction. Something deeper is meant here that is awkward to say in that taking on a direction isn’t often discussed in this way. What is being assessed is the “freedom for” “belonging to become” what would fulfill that accomplishment and direction of development.

Belonging to become” something (and to accomplish that which fits it) is a way of being that allows one to engage and progress and correct as one goes in behalf of the development and accomplishment called for. This approach can be contrasted with needing to know first, or needing to have a method.

Needing to know is a trap if the development really is intended to move one to a new level of power and freedom. The pathway and end state aren’t easy to picture, therefore not easy to know. If the direction is in fact developmental, then new methods need to be invented along the way, hence the old method that is known isn’t key.

The key is “freedom for” taking on what is next to be fulfilled, and the development and accomplishment heard to be fitting that direction. This is an act of courage, openness and intentionality. This is not an act of knowing, methodical plodding ahead, nor of doing the old thing faster or longer. “Belonging to become” capable of the new power and accomplishment starts with getting interested in being that, and moves forward by being open, intentional, and letting go of old ways that will not fulfill the direction.

That kind of freedom, the “freedom for” (in behalf of) that which is new and unrevealed yet accomplishable, is not without constraints, is not without social and cultural barriers, and is not already set up to happen. It is an intentional act of courage in which one lives into the new way of being and way of accomplishing developmentally — willing to learn, adjust, and become what is called for to ensure the accomplishment.

Accomplishment develops.

Development accomplishes.

And what makes those satisfying and fulfilling is the courageous “freedom for” being and “belonging to become” that which allows for the next fitting accomplishment.


About Ken Anbender

Kenneth Anbender Ph.D. has spent the last 50 years working with more than a hundred thousand people directly on the principles and methods that support the fulfillment of a human life -- in community and at work. He has developed a body of work that is licensable called The Contegrity Approach.
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