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Take Ownership of Your Career and Your Life

One of the most heartbreaking things I’m seeing during this financial recession is the absolute shock many people face when they lose their job.  It’s as if they are actually stunned.  They had just assumed a job would always be there, and now have absolutely no idea what to do next.  During my career in the media and non-profit worlds, I’ve always seen two mindsets:
The employee mindset and the freelance mindset.  The employee mindset is focused on a single job, and once that’s in place, the company kicks in and takes over.  Employees turn over their control to the organization, who then take care of medical benefits, salary, policies, working schedules, etc.  Most Americans are in this camp.  That’s why the President spends so much time talking about the need for “jobs” and puts more and more responsibility on businesses to take care of their employees.

On the other hand, the “freelance” mindset is very different.  It’s much more entrepreneurial and open to risk.  Freelancers take ownership of their career and know everything is up to them.  They spend time learning about the market, networking, expanding their options, and being more independent.  They know that they can’t count on a company or the government to take care of them, so they look out for themselves.

When the economy tanks or a company goes under, which one do you want to be?  I was fired from a job when I was 37.  I was married with two pre-school daughters.  I was upset, but not surprised.  A year before, Kathleen and I had started shifting from an employee to a freelance mindset.  We knew there would be nothing else in that city for me, and we’d have to move to Los Angeles if I was to continue in media and entertainment.  Out of being fired, we started Cooke Media Group, and it was the best thing we’ve ever done.

Whatever your job or situation, start moving from an employee mindset to a freelance mindset.  Start taking control of your career and your future, and stop  expecting the company or government to look out for you – especially in this economy.  Always have an exit strategy ready, and from this moment on, work as hard as you can to ensure you never get shocked by a pink slip.  In fact, position yourself now so a pink slip could actually be your ticket to a better future.

 

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15 Comments

  1. Wow! You stole my heart with that one! I love that mindset. The last sentence summed it up best:

    In fact, position yourself now so a pink slip could actually be your ticket to a better future.”

     

    Thanks. I needed that.

  2. I always thought that self-employment wasn’t for me until I lost my teaching job a year ago…now, my husband and I realize that this is the best time to start our own business in production….recession? What recession? 
    Unfortunatelly, though, we’re hitting the wall of the Latin mindset in the production business. 

  3. technically I’m still a student, but I feel like a freelance with the jobs I do in media. I never want to have a “normal” job. Freelance is definitely the life for me!

  4. I freelanced for 6 years. It really makes you think about where you can add value. Its definately a different mindset.

  5. Great post Phil!  I love Seth Godin’s (“Tribes”) metaphor of being a unicorn in a baloon factory – always blowing up the status quo.

    This hits home.  My severance package from one of the many shrinking former giants in media has enabled me to spend critical development time in my own business.  This pink silp was and continues to be my ticket to a MUCH better future.

    There is no substitute for loving God and loving what you do for Him!!

  6. Even if I am an employee

    I live by the mindset that says, “I will never work for anyone again, I will work with them.”

    It keeps the entrepreneurial spirit in me.

  7. Phil, a couple years ago you gave me some very sound advice. It came after I’d been unexpectedly blown up at a tv ministry. I was still pretty mad and bitter about things.

    You said: “Get over it. Better to go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated.” Last add from you was, “the disciples shook off the dust of their shoes from the towns and villages that wouldn’t accept what they had to give. Do the same.”

    Still good advice. Thanks, Phil.

  8. Reminds me of the old saying that often the one thing keeping you from a great job is a good job…and it is so true.

     

    The freelance mindset is key, and not sure it can be learned easily.  My father was self-employed, and we kids all understood that things waited until “the money bird flew”.  

    Today all four of us are gainfully self-employed.  I have often wondered if part of the reason was we were never afraid to not have the steady paycheck, willing to trade steady for the rewards of owning your own gig.

  9. “Freelancers take ownership of their career and know everything is up to them. They spend time learning about the market, networking, expanding their options, and being more independent.”

    Yes! A lot of it comes down to how we define what it is we actually do to earn a living; and of course, how that fits into how we define ourselves.

  10. Phil, I think the same company you left when you were 37 taught me early on not to look to organizations for security – the hard way. I have lived the freelance mindset ever since, for over 30 years now and I have never felt un-secure. Have times always been easy? By no means, but I knew I was the one who could make a difference in my own situation. Not to mention, being freelance allows you to be totally open to what God may have in store. I think all our biblical heros were freelance, weren’t they?

  11. Great article Phil! I agree 100 percent!!!!  Owning your own destiny is so much better than waiting for someone else up above you to decide it for you. I strongly believe that what happened to you (getting fired and starting your own media company) is indeed going to spur more believers into following their own God-given dreams. I believe there is a revival of fresh creative voices and ideas coming to the media and entertainment spheres of influence through this recession: and they will come through God-fearing people who are willing to think out of the church box. Your story is the first of many that will inspire people to take hold of their gifts and talents and stop renting them out to corporate America.

     

     

  12. PC- I want you on my talk show about Life Lessons. You are so very right about preparing yourself for a freelance world. Personally, the lessons learned after 30 years are:
    1. Ask more questions from people that have made miss-takes and learned from them.
    2. Develop an understanding of a simple cash flow model.
    3. Surround yourself with a entourage of professionals starting with a good CPA, a board of advisors and a prayer team that will be warriors through thick and thin.
    4. Keep reading the Bible to learn the jewels about wisdom and contentment (mostly in Ecclesiastes). It will knock you out.

    Please call me so I can schedule you on my show.

    Rick Tocquigny
    Miss-takes: Embracing Life’s Lessons (DK Book)
    303-324-6298

  13. Hi Phil.  We met at Orchard Park’s The Tabernacle a few years back at a technology conference when you showed the Lakewood commercial you were instrumental in creating.  You have some of the best articles I have ever read!  I can’t understand why anyone who registered to receive your newsletters would cancel?  I love them!

    Anyhow, 8 weeks ago I fired my boss!  I now work as an entrepreneur full time in the healthy chocolate business.  We are in 15 countries and counting.  I can’t believe I waited so long to venture out on my own!  My colleagues in this business make 5-figure monthly incomes, all because of the huge health benefits tied to healthy, dark chocolate.  I am close to that myself now!  We cover everything at http://www.theworldsgreatestchocolate.com if anyone else out there wants to fire their boss! 

    Thanks for all you do Phil!

    Yours in cashflow to finance the kingdom,

    Ted & Lena Lederer

  14. Hi, my husband and I have done both over the past 33 years.  If I was speaking to someone who was currently an employee; I would also add that while expanding your mindset and horizons, do not develop a short-timers attitude toward your current position.  That could or would become diasasterous.  With that said, I agree!

  15. If you look at the book of Exodus, its all about going from having other people tell you what to do (slavery), to having “your own vine and fig tree”(ownership and entreprenuership). 

    The current real estate loan crisis would never had happened if we had a “Year of Jubilee”.  It may sound silly, but maybe God understood something about economic cycles when He set up the real estate policies in Deuteronomy.

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