Hey there, you’re listening to They Don’t Teach This in Business School. I’m Julie Bee, and I’m really glad you’re here today with me.
Today is July 4th in America, and that means it is Independence Day. The Fourth of July has always been a favorite holiday of mine. I remember being a kid, piling into our family station wagon, and going to the Hills Department Store parking lot on top of Bridgeport Hill to watch the fireworks my small town put off every year. Even as I’ve gotten older, I still enjoy a great fireworks show, and I’ve been known to light a sparkler. And by a sparkler, I mean an entire box of them.
This year, though, I’m thinking about freedom as a business owner. First off, I feel incredibly lucky to live in a country where I have the freedom to operate a business. And, freedom as a business owner doesn’t often mean what it sounds like.
The freedom business ownership allows me doesn’t always mean that I get to work when and where I want to work. In fact, I have a pretty normal workday Monday through Friday, and I usually work from my home office. But where I do have freedom is in who I get to work with, when I get to take off work, and what I work on every day. There’s a great degree of choice in my work, and it requires an equally high level of discretion and discernment in the choices I make each day.
Today is a day I often reflect on that discretion and discernment the founders of this country were required to exercise to make today possible for us. While I’ll be the first to admit that the founders of this country didn’t do everything right (and did a lot of things that were just plain wrong), the level of discretion and discernment that went into drafting the Declaration of Independence was enormous. And when they adopted it on July 4th, 1776, they knew their decisions, and what was included in that document, would chart a course for these United States of America that would be followed for centuries.
In America, we often hear the phrase freedom isn’t free – and that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. If someone has freedom, people have worked very hard to ensure that freedom. Our freedom as a population is fought for every day in both seen and unseen ways. Our military and service people take an oath to defend that freedom with their lives. There are people working every day to protect my personal freedoms and I am immensely grateful for that.
In my daily life as a business owner, I have a lot of freedom. I can decide to take a day off to help my parents go to the doctor. I can reprioritize projects as needed. As long as I have internet access, I can work from anywhere. I decide who I work with – from clients to employees. And all of this freedom is certainly not free. It takes hard work, discipline, direction, determination, and resilience. This requires a lot of decision making. It requires courage to chart that course. It requires integrity to maintain it.
So today, I reflect on freedom. The freedom I have as an American. The freedom I have as a business owner. And the freedom I have in discretion and discernment when making decisions. It isn’t always perfect – but it is certainly better than no freedom at all.
And now, I’m going to have a little slice of Americana – hot dogs, friends and family, and of course, fireworks. I’m Julie Bee, and they don’t teach this in business school.