No One Is In Charge: Seth Godin’s Keys To Freedom

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I had my most powerful “Aha moment” when I realized there is no one in charge. While I might get arrested and fined If I left my house naked tomorrow, there is no divine force that can prevent me.

If I want to eat gummy bears for every meal I can. My teeth might fall out. But the choice is mine to make. As entrepreneurs the realization no one controls our fate is the closest we get to true freedom.

“It’s deep within us to let the boss tell us what to do,” Seth Godin says in the video from last month’s Creative Mornings talk. But every boss has a boss, Godin says. The people we think are in charge are just as clueless as we are. The only difference is that they have flashier job titles, and more responsibility. This isn’t authority.

My grandfather died last summer and then my mom’s cancer came back. There was no rhyme or reason to it. No one and nothing willed it to be. No one can bring back my grandfather, and nothing can explain cancer, even when it can treated. Life happens. All we can do is deal with circumstance to the best of our ability. That is life.

We think we live in a society governed by laws, rules, and social conventions. These invisible forces only work because we enforce restrictions on ourselves. We do the right thing because it is the path of least resistance. There is no objective right or wrong–only what is best in the moment. This almost always means that we do right by others, but not when it’s a matter of survival.

And the people who society deems authorities are people at the end of the day. Police officers are doing a job for which they’re paid a salary. Judges rule on the facts of a case. They don’t make the law even when they establish precedent. Our elected officials are voted into office because it is the will of the populace. And so on.

As an entrepreneur you have the freedom to breath life into a dream. No one makes it real but you. Through your inspiration, leadership and persistence you turn an idea into a force for change.

What stops us far too often is the worry that other people will judge us, or criticize us if we don’t succeed. Failing to fail is a far worse fate than flaming out.

The companies and organizations we think of as our biggest rivals are scrambling to please their shareholders. Apple is still just a business, which explains why its share price is getting pummeled by Wall Street. President Barack Obama may be “the most powerful man in the world,” but he can’t get an uncooperative Congress to do his bidding.

As entrepreneurs we may be wild-eyed dreamers who like to juggle knives, but there’s no one to stop us from changing the world. There’s no one in charge. We’re all judged by the value we create, and the lives we touch. That’s it.


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