Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.


Reframing Freedom and The Big Bad Wolf

Over at BLANK, fivemcclungs uses a popular fairytale as an allegory for the fate of many hapless designers. That lure of "stable paycheck, cushy firm" calls us in its sticky sweet voice, then ten years later we're left to wonder who we serve and how we got so stuck along the way.

I use this example and take it further, as I think it applies to every one of us.

There are some people who enjoy the corporate setting - swimming with sharks, playing the games, never taking it personally. They are the successful 5%.

Then there's the rest of us. We struggle as entrepreneurs and as employees, craving an ideal of "freedom," chanting the popular mantras of the working stiffs - "TGIF" and "Retirement or Bust."

But how sad.

No matter what your situation in the employment world, there is no such thing as freedom. That is the hard, cold truth.

We hear this statement from our friends who work for big companies:

"It must be so great for you - working for yourself. You have the freedom."


The fact of the matter is - we ALL have people who depend on us. That is a part of being a healthy individual, a part of a community. To varying degrees, our responsibilities are important to the livelihood of others. We must work. We must contribute on some level.

I don't know anyone who runs their business from a laptop on the beach, unless you're Richard Branson. Learning to reframe our North American concept of freedom is an important part of creating a career in which we thrive.

Responsibilities don't have to be the enemy. They develop us and give us reason to help one another.

That is not to say "buck up." If you are miserable in your current field, reevaluate - and fast.

Just remember that no employment situation is without its unique challenges and rewards. If you are not finding your happiness in any career, perhaps its time to consider if whether or not the "Wolf" you fear is within you.