Setting Yourself Free

This post is inspired by the fact that tonight is the first night of Passover, when Jews commemorate the exodus from Egypt approximately 3500 years ago.

The story of the exodus describes an enslaved nation leaving their oppressors, and founding a religion shortly thereafter. Having worked as slaves for hundreds of years, the nation leaves the country, and accepts upon themselves the various commandments God gives them.

This is, perhaps, a difficult concept to understand. Having lived under the control of their Egyptian masters for hundreds of years, it is surprising that they would then choose to accept another master shortly after.

However, there is a fundamental difference between the two masters, and this has applications in everything people do.

In Egypt, the Jews did not choose their masters, but were born into slavery. (Granted, at an earlier time that choice was made, but it was not made by anyone in the generation of the exodus.) Therefore, regardless of the conditions, the fact that they had no choice in the matter made it all the harder to bear.

Once they were out of Egypt, however, and could choose their own destiny, they chose to obey God and the commandments. Since they made the choice willingly, it did not appear to be a form of slavery or suppression.

Life is like this in general.

If you dictate an action or behavior to someone, they will often resent it, regardless of whether or not the action is reasonable, or if they would have done it anyhow.

On the other hand, if you give people a choice, you will often see that they will opt for the more difficult or challenging path, and yet, enjoy the journey. Since they were able to choose, it doesn’t seem as difficult.

When possible, give people around you the ability to make choices. Not only do you demonstrate that you trust them to make wise choices, but you will also find that people go along with you more easily when they have a say in the matter.

As another example of this, think of how you get children to perform a particular task. You can order them to do the task, and expend significant amounts of energy trying to force the point. Or you can give them a choice, and let them live with the decision, and more often than not, achieving the same end result without the emotional investment.

Which way do you think is better?