For much of my early twenties I had a lot of freedom that came with a steep price tag.
I was a fully supported partner living in England with an Entrepreneur who built a very successful online based business from nothing while I looked after the home front to ease his workload and acted as his sounding board.
I got to participate in high level entrepreneurial conversations, workshops and programs alongside of him and while he implemented the ideas he was learning, I simply stored them away for later use.
I let ‘Fat Rat Syndrome’ minimize my effectiveness and keep me from letting the world know I was available for hire. Instead of launching and releasing all the creative babies I worked on in the privacy of my office, when I wasn’t helping him with his business or looking after our 6 bedroom farmhouse in the English countryside, I just held them back and waited to package them into something I never made it back to.
Creative babies have a certain shelf life by which they must be birthed or the loss of momentum will catapult them into a motion-less life, which is almost worse than death.
At least in death you are free to begin the next adventure, but you don’t have to literally die in order to make that shift, you simply must be willing to release your attachment to the you of the past in order to become the you that you want to be.
You can only make this transition confidently when you know that you have given this life your very best effort so do what it takes in the present moment to create the legacy that you want to be remembered for in the future.
Fat Rat Syndrome was a term I coined while driving through the English countryside one afternoon after getting groceries in Malvern. I was listening to Maxwell Maltz’s audioprogram on Pyschocybernetics and I heard myself in his description of the fat rat in an experiment he described.
Scientists took two rats and fed one to the brim and starved the other to a significant level of hunger, and then placed each one individually into a maze with cheese as the prize.
The starved rat was like my ex who hustled through the maze and got to the cheese as fast as possible, while I was like the fed rat who contentedly strolled down the road of entrepreneurialism with a less focus and apparent desire to succeed like the rat who sauntered to the cheese more slowly and who eventually reached its goal too just in more time.
The experiment was repeated but this time both rats were starved and that’s when the magic became apparent.
The fed rat from the first experiment whized through the maze without making the same mistakes it did the first time, instead it seemed to have taken in its environment and remembered what worked compared to what didn’t. The starved rat on the other hand made the same mistakes because neither time were they present in the moment to take in their surroundings.
We are the same way regardless of whether it’s our entrepreneurial journey, or our everyday life.
We get to choose the tempo we’re committed to operating at and we’ve got to prioritize how we’re willing to invest our T.E.E.M. I use that acronym all the time now because it’s so relevant.
Our T.E.E.M is our Time, Energy, Emotion and Money.
Our sense of freedom is a big determining factor in how we invest it too, because at the end of the day too much of anything is rarely a good thing.
Life operates based on the law of polarity which states that there is an equal and opposite to everything and freedom and constraint are two of the spectrums you really want to pay attention to in life.
Freedom and constraint are actually functional opposites to each other, but there are dysfunctional opposites too and they wind up being where irresponsibility that feels free sends you into obligation of paying for something you’ve already enjoyed.
It’s about learning to shift your action into the realm of freedom and constraint instead of irresponsibly and obligation, overcommitting yourself and then asking for someone to bail you out.
My relationships and business ventures have taught me a lot about both and I’m sure the same is true for you! Share an experience you’ve had that felt free but that was also constraining in functional and dysfunctional ways, or just generally how you can use what I’ve just shared.
Looking forward to reading your insights!
Laura JE Hamilton
PS. The picture is of one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen on the northern African island of Mauritius. It was like sitting in a postcard the whole trip!