What is a world without freedom like?

Published on: 15 July 2015

Unfortunately, there are many places in this world where freedom is absent.

For example, those who live in poverty, with poor health or with poor quality education.  Business leaders and citizens have a duty to work hard to bring freedom to places where it is absent.

There are two areas in particular where I work hard to bring freedom to places where it is lacking:  The first is in my role as CEO of MiWay, where we work hard to bring insurance freedom (or as we call it - #insurancefreedom) to our clients.  We do not always succeed, but we never stop trying.

The other area is the Rainwater Project charity that I am involved in together with my wife, some good friends and most of my business friends.  We raise money every year to be able to install rainwater tanks in communities with no running water.  Just stop for a moment and imagine a world with no clean, running water!  It is hard to find freedom there.  The amazing thing, however, is to see the smiles of the beneficiaries of the rainwater tanks.  It is freedom in action!

Freedom is absent where negativity reins.  A bad attitude and freedom do not sit around the same table.  There is no excuse for this though, because we determine our own attitudes!

…And a world where freedom reigns?

Freedom is a powerful word that evokes strong emotions in most of us.

Many wars have been fought over freedom and much has been written about it in religious scriptures and history books.

We read in the Bible that “the truth will set you free” and the Sufi Way talks about Wealth, Purpose and Freedom – if you apply your wealth (financial wealth, wealth of experience, wisdom or knowledge) to a noble purpose, it will bring about freedom to the beneficiaries.

After deep reflection at MiWay, we were amazed to discover that our true purpose is to bring about #insurancefreedom for our clients through our services and products.  Very simply put, we provide our clients with peace of mind – the freedom of not worrying about their valuables, for example.  Furthermore, every time we save a client time or money through our efficient processes and competitive premiums, we leave them with more freedom (again, what we call #insurancefreedom) to spend their time and money on the things that matter most to them.

This realisation led to our brand campaign, built around the concept of “Insurance Freedom”.

The kind of freedom I want to focus on is, however, not the Insurance Freedom of our campaign, but rather what freedom means to me on a personal level. 

As part of our internal campaign to kick off #insurancefreedom, our Marketing Team asked everyone in the company to provide a photograph that depicts freedom, with a short narrative of what it means. 

It was very difficult to choose one photograph from the many that depict different manifestations of freedom to me.  The photograph I eventually chose was one where my youngest son and I cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon together, holding hands. 

I chose that photo because many of the elements of what freedom means to me are captured in it, for example:

  • being healthy enough to run and train for a grueling event,
  • having great relationships with family and friends (in this case my son, who loved tackling this challenge with his father),
  • having the support of my wife that allows me to do these crazy things and who supported us along the route,
  • being part of a bigger family of runners from many countries and all walks of life, etc. 

I love physical exercise, especially running.  I always take my running shoes with me when I travel.  I love to explore and discover new places and new parts of old places on my runs.  The best part of running is the runner’s high - the feeling of elation and heightened awareness that normally hits me after about forty minutes of running.  I always feel energised afterwards by the endorphins that my brain released while I was running.  And sometimes I hit “the zone” where it feels as if I’m floating and I feel more alive than ever. 

To me, that is freedom.

My experience of freedom is not limited to running.  I find it in many places: in good books, in a glass of good red wine, in the company of good friends, in a shared laugh with my wife, in an intense debate...

I live in a free country and I am free to love and run and read and eat and drink and travel and laugh and dream and debate and engage and innovate and take risks and tackle challenges and support good causes and promote positive change and get up when I fall and apologise when I mess up and be content…I am free.

Freedom is everywhere, if you look out for it.