Celebrating Your Career Independence

Like most of you, I spent this past weekend relaxing, catching up on some long-neglected chores and between periods of light showers and heavy rain, enjoying some traditional July 4th fare, hotdogs, apple pie and lemonade.

I did give some thought about the reason for our celebration. I think many of us, because of more immediate concerns about work, family and our future, don’t fully appreciate the freedoms that we enjoy and seem to take for granted. Then the thought occurred to me that there might be a way for us, all of us, to more fully appreciate what our forefathers went through, endured and fought for so that we, the people, could indeed claim our “inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And it has to do with our careers. Let me explain.

Most people would agree with the findings of numerous surveys and studies that the majority of our workforce is not happy. They are not happy with their job, their boss, their co-workers, their chance for advancement, or their prospects for the future. They are working but are not satisfied. There is no joy. There seems to be a disconnect between what people do for a living and the idea of a “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

In his award winning book, We Are All Self-Employed, Cliff Hakim suggests that “The drastically changing world of work demands a new social contract – one that says we are all self-employed whether we work inside or outside of
organizations. Approaching the marketplace as an Independent problem-solver can be an aid when searching for work that is meaningful and relevant.”

To see if you have the proper mindset to be self-employed or independent in how you approach your work, Hakim has put together the following Self-Employed Inventory. Ask yourself these questions and answer “Yes” or “No”.

· Do you believe that your current job is not guaranteed or that you will not have the same customers forever?

· Do you go beyond your job description?

· Do you volunteer for projects?

· Do you identify problems?

· Do you initiate solutions?

· Do you look beyond the hours you work to the task or job that needs to be done?

· Do you seek out others with whom to share ideas and advice?

· Do you take an inventory of your skills every four to six months?

· Do you ask your customers – on a regular basis – what you can do to improve your service delivery or product quality?

· Do you enjoy what you do at least two-thirds of the time?

· Do you make it a point to learn something new every week?

· Do you ask questions rather than simply accept what comes your way?

· Do you develop flexible action plans as you assess your options to change?

· Do you believe that you are responsible for your career or job?

If you answered “Yes” to most then consider yourself having the self-employed mindset and address the questions to which you answered “No”. If you answered “No” to most then you have a good idea of where you need to improve in order to have the self-employed mindset.

So, what did your answers indicate? Based on your answers do you have a self-employed mindset? Would you consider yourself Career Independent? If so then celebrating Independence Day has a great deal of meaning to you. If you do not have the self-employed mindset begin to work on it so that next July 4th you too can declare and celebrate your own independence!

Views: 155

Comment by Ali Webster on July 7, 2010 at 4:09pm
Nick, thanks for pointing out Hakim's work. Even though you can only answer Yes or No to those questions, they make you think! I try to come up with one idea or concrete action item today that will make me more efficient tomorrow. This has served me well. I like to think that I answer a firm YES to all the questions, but I need a little work on a few of them. Happy 4th!
Comment by Nick Tubach on July 7, 2010 at 11:33pm
Ali, very nice! Your daily, concrete action item approach is a great idea to continually chip away at this objective. It reminds me of, and supports the fact that achieving this or most anything worthwhile is a process, not just an event. Regardless, it takes a fundamental /core change in perspective and our approach to enable our 'independence', and it sounds like you’re very realistic about it.
I am wondering... do you think many folks genuinely feel the same as you re your answers to the questions?
Comment by Ali Webster on July 8, 2010 at 9:42am
I can't speak for the entire work force, however, I think a lot of people become stagnant within their current positions. Some people coast through their day-to-day activities and forget about their own development because it seems easy and comfortable. But these are the same individuals who complain of boredom. For me, I'm constantly trying to improve the process, find a more effective way to complete a task or educating myself. This keeps me motivated (and sane).
Comment by Paul Alfred on July 8, 2010 at 12:06pm
Nick there are folks out there that have great careers and have no inclination whatsoever to work for themselves ... Even though i belong to the Self Employed Group .. Nothing is wrong with that mindset. Not alot of people like to walk away from the blanket of a sure thing into the World of Risk .... It takes a certain mindset and even those that may have answered yes to your questions may not really be the get out there and hussle type....
Comment by Daniel F Ridge on July 9, 2010 at 1:13pm
Paul, the idea of having a Self-employed mindset does not mean that you have to work for yourself. Most people when asked a question about their work, will respond "I work for....". Those with a self-employed mindset would respond "I work with...". It may seem like a small matter but when you start saying "I work with...", you have a better understanding of your value and the joy that you derive from your work depends on no one else but you. That is Career Independence.
Comment by Paul Alfred on July 9, 2010 at 3:58pm
Perhaps ... Career independence in your Mind ... I also think that varies from the kind of Company you work for and the nature of its Management Philosophy ....
Comment by Daniel F Ridge on July 9, 2010 at 4:37pm
And if the kind of company you work for and the nature of its Management Philosophy do not agree with how or where you want to offer your skills and experience then you are FREE to take them elsewhere. It is your choice. You are Independent. Declare and celebrate it!
Comment by Ann Willingham, SPHR on July 11, 2010 at 12:20pm
Ditto Dan…Taking an entrepreneurial approach to work puts you in charge. You are the boss of your career – even as an employee. Own it. Enjoyment of one’s job starts from within. You get out of it what you put in it. When that is no longer the case, then the entrepreneur in you addresses the deficit. Either you can enrich your current job, find more suitable employment, or hang out your shingle. You are free to choose. In America we are all free to choose.
Comment by Daniel F Ridge on July 12, 2010 at 11:09am
Could not have said it better. I know that Cliff Hakim would also agree. Great post Nick. It certainly has prompted some great conversation. Keep it up.
Comment by pam claughton on July 14, 2010 at 5:56am
Great post. Reminds me of the old saying 'cream rises to the top'. Over the years I've seen this proven time and time again when people take it upon themselves to go above and beyond and often the result is they create their own new job and promotion as these are the people who get noticed and rewarded. This is a great approach for temp work as well, and can result in a permanent role being created, have seen that happen many times.


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