magine for a moment, that you live on an island. Not deserted but not a bustling metropolis either. Just a small little village of people. Kind of like the cities in The Walking Dead where everyone has banded together to start fresh. (Without the zombies.)

One day you decide that the rules of the village are too restrictive. You’ve finally had enough. It’s time to get in your boat and hustle on over to an empty island nearby.

You’ll make your own rules. No one can tell you what to do. Total freedom.

As you’re chopping down small trees for firewood, the thought pops into your head: I have nowhere to sleep. And nothing to eat other than what I have with me. It’s all up to me now.

Alright back to reality. (Unless that actually is your reality, in which case… nice work with the 5G antenna.) This is what so many people have encountered when embarking on self-employment. The pot of gold at the end of the professional rainbow… full of client pitches instead of gold.

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened by responsibility.” — Sigmund Freud

True entrepreneurial freedom requires serious responsibility; especially when applied to the professional world. Like having to build your own house, having to make your own paycheck also keeps a roof over your head.

There are three parts to this picture worth considering. And you can be on either side of the fence when thinking these through.

But… do think about them.

1. Responsibility to Yourself

This comes first because when you start as a business of one, that’s where the action starts and finishes.

It’s also tied to other important components of self-employment.

You are responsible for your own motivation; intrinsically or sourcing it intrinsically. This is key when starting out. Get that flywheel moving, to quote Jim Collins via Tim Ferriss.

You’re also accountable to yourself. And thus, responsible for forging the path to victories. As well as taking responsibility when they go awry.

Finally, the self-talk reserved for 2am is now your daily pump-up. Make it positive. Talk to yourself like you would a friend, not a colleague during a forced happy hour.

2. Responsibility to Clients & Customers

Whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re selling, there will more than likely be an end-user. Someone who is trading their money for your time, effort, and work.

Whether you’re on day one or day one thousand, you owe it to them to show up. Being responsible for your client or customer-facing persona is pivotal.

Communicate clearly. Be respectful and appreciative. (And empathetic when they’re aggravating.) Deliver on time. And deliver quality.

People will forgive a missed deadline. Or debate quality. But they’ll never forget how you make them feel. At worst, choose two and be sure one of them is being nice.

3. Responsibility to Your Community

Different than clients. Or customers. Think of all the people who support you for nothing in return. The ones who hype you up to others when you’re not even around. The complete strangers who share your work on Instagram. The old colleagues who pass your name along because you always made them feel important. (See #2 above)

These are your people. Your community. And in so many ways, it stretches far beyond what you might even realize.

Responsibility to your community includes showing up every day. Being the person and professional they champion you as, even when you don’t believe it anymore. Respect their support and get after it.

This successful foundation is built upon the trust and support of your community. Combined with your own motivation and belief in yourself, the real magic happens.

Just today I had a few people like my tweet about joining Foundation to (hopefully) start my NFT collection. For a limited following and randomly-active person on Twitter, that was surprising. And you know… it absolutely meant the world to me.

Professional freedom isn’t free. But it’s a lot more fulfilling when we embrace the responsibility required to flourish.

As I sit here building my own hut, my only request is this — keep those three ideas in mind when things get rough. Or before you decide to get in that boat and set off to your own island.

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