Freedom in chains. Impossible, right? Chains bind. They enslave. They imprison.
But when you choose to wear chains for a purpose, they also bring freedom.
Chain your beliefs to your nation
There is freedom in knowing what you believe. When you say your beliefs with conviction, bind them to who you are, and make them your nation’s identity and mission, those beliefs become the catalyst that moves your vision forward.
Many of history’s great men and women bound themselves to a vision they were not willing to separate from. Their beliefs caused division, but they also produced widespread movements that compelled large numbers of people to take action. For example:
- Martin Luther King, Jr. committed his words and actions to his dreams of peace, influencing hundreds of thousands of people to join together against racial discrimination in the United States.
- Mahatma Gandhi bound himself through fasting and other forms of non-violent protest, starting a movement to free Muslim and Hindu Indians from religious persecution (and setting the precedent for non-violent change across the world).
- William Wilberforce chained himself to unpopular views and helped abolish the British slave trade, working toward that cause for 26 years and dying just three days after his Slavery Abolition Act was passed in 1833.
- Jesus Christ allowed himself to be nailed to a cross to free mankind from sin, spurring the explosive worldwide spread of Christianity.
Except for the born-to-a-virgin, came-back-from-the-dead Jesus (if you can forgive my bias here), these are ordinary people who understood that they would be absolutely ineffective unless they were able to compel large groups of people to take action. The same goes for you.
Chain yourself to your nation’s struggles
Chains cause division and they cause struggle. But struggles have an interesting ability to clarify values and uncover your people’s hidden strengths. No amount of beachfront cocktail-sipping could compete with that.
For example, when your nation is struggling financially, stop looking at finances as your only natural resource. Look at your relationships — maybe that’s where you’re rich. Or look at your skills, your equipment, or your high levels of energy and chutzpah (a surplus of energy and chutzpah is not to be underestimated!). These are constraints that help you develop creative solutions to the problems that your nation is facing — solutions that haven’t been trod to death by others before you.
Accept the obstacles that may temporarily bind your nation. By surrendering to the struggle and raising your white flag high, you unlock your nation’s potential.
Chain your nation to self-sacrifice
True freedom comes when we fight the natural tendency to take the easy road, fall apart, and get our own way, right now. When we set aside our sense of what we are individually entitled to, we open up the possibility for a much greater freedom for the people we are trying to serve.
Freedom for you might look like…
- …foregoing the need to be right.
- …forgiving the one who has wronged you.
- …waiting to let someone else go first.
- …listening with openness rather than becoming defensive.
- …erring on the side of life when making a decision that effects the unborn and their families.
- …asking for help when you discover you can’t do it alone.
- …failing, and then beginning a new idea, adventure, or relationship.
- …working it out, maintaining your vow and bond, with a life partner.
- …choosing the long, hard, stupid way over the easy, practical, strategic way.
We all have choices to make. Sometimes we face moral dilemmas where all solutions are flawed, and we have to choose the least horrible option. But when you lead with conviction and an openness to self-sacrifice and putting other people’s needs before your own, you open yourself up to freedom and possibility. Not to mention the amazing experience of having your own needs met in unexpected ways.
Chain your nation to the strength of many
There is strength in a chain — when we bind ourselves with the people of our nation, we become an interlocked community of members, dedicated to a common goal and a unified cause.
Working with other people is scary. You risk hurt feelings and miscommunications and confrontation. You increase the amount of financial responsibility that a project needs to generate to support the people working on it. But while it may seem easier and less risky to do things on our own, we miss out on producing something greater than ourselves.
When we work with others, our strengths are magnified and our weaknesses are diminished. We exponentially increase the diversity of thoughts in the room, which then exponentially increases the number of solutions that become available to us. We pool our resources of intelligence, opinion, experience, community, and commitment. We gain support and encouragement and validation and humility and accountability.
Strength does not lie in a single link in the chain. When we come together and hold fast to a single pursuit, we can do the impossible.
Decide what you stand for and bind yourself to the beliefs, struggles, self-sacrifice, and people that will ultimately bring freedom to your nation. And when you fail (and all great leaders fail), get back up, dust off your chains, and begin again.