Congratulations John for a very valuable and timely blog post. I find it complements nicely the following blog posts, that are intended to mutually reinforce each other. The first is Are we able to connect the energy dots looking backwards towards a Declaration of Interdependence?, which was also inspired in the 4th of July. The second is Carta a Diario Libre: Hagamos que el problema sea de todos con libertad de expresión, whose 4th update is "Para que los jóvenes tengan derecho al futuro con libertad de expresión ayudanos a crear la civilización sistémica," something like "in order for young people to be entitled to the future with freedom of expression help us to create the systemic civilization," and for which your blog post is a most read short term risk taking blog post.
Rather than simply celebrating an event in the distant past, maybe we can use the occasion to inspire ourselves to pursue a different kind of independence today.
The prison of conformity
I’m thinking this might be a good occasion for all of us to step back and assess how much we might still be prisoners of social pressures.
Perhaps this a good time to reflect on what we have given up as we seek to accommodate the demands and needs of others.
What if we stopped blaming others for pressuring us to be someone we’re not and instead took responsibility for making the choices and taking the actions that would enable us to express ourselves more fully?
Serving others by serving ourselves
Here’s a paradox: we often justify our conformity to social pressures in terms of our desire to please others, to make them happy. Yet, perhaps the most effective way ultimately to serve others is to discover and become who we were meant to be
We certainly won’t please all of those around us today, but maybe that’s OK.
Responding to mounting performance pressure
Many of us justify our urge to conform in terms of growing performance pressure. We fear that if we don’t conform, we’ll lose the support of others and become increasingly marginalized.
The best way to respond to mounting performance pressure is to differentiate ourselves by finding our unique individuality so that we stand out from others and achieve impact that no one else could achieve.
One of the benefits of making this choice is that we’ll find it much easier to build trust-based relationships.
Short-term risk for long-term reward
Now, I don’t want to under-estimate the challenges in doing this.
We’ll certainly be taking significant short-term risk by expressing who we really are but, for the reasons outlined earlier, that risk will position us to be much more effective in turning pressure into potential.
Women and other marginalized groups will find it particularly challenging to throw off this pressure to conform in the short-term because they're typically the first to suffer in environments experiencing mounting performance pressure. And yet they are ultimately the ones who will benefit the most from taking this opportunity to connect with their unique individuality and bringing it forward.
Let’s all draw inspiration from those who came before us and who stood up for the opportunity to create a freer society. We have an opportunity to re-shape all of our institutions in ways that will make all of us as individuals and as institutions better able to turn pressure into potential.
The small moves that each of us take to express more of our unique individuality and to come together with others who respect and embrace us for who we really are can set some very big things in motion.
And, by the way, if we do this in all dimensions of our economy and society, we'll lay the foundation for a dramatic expansion of political freedom around the world.