Creative Leadership

In Your Career, Do You Want Safety or Freedom?

One of the biggest complaints I get from employees at non-profit organizations is that they’re not allowed to make decisions. They complain the organization doesn’t support their dream. At that point I like to remind them of the tacit exchange they made when they signed on for the job. When you expect your boss to take care of your health benefits, salary, retirement, security, and employment, you give something away in the process.

I believe that as long as we pursue safety, we relinquish living a life that matters.

Stop for a minute and think about how much you’ve turned over in exchange for safety. Do you really feel comfortable voicing dissent in meetings? Do you really believe your ideas will be valued and acted upon? Do you really believe that you’re not simply viewed as another commodity – a working part – that could be exchanged easily without interrupting the process?

I’m not against organizations, in fact I own two. But I am against people sacrificing their values for employment. And it’s not about your company or it’s leader. It’s about you. What would it take for you to be valued? What would it take for you to reach the peak of your ability and calling?

The answer isn’t easy, because life isn’t about finding answers, it’s about asking the right questions. So don’t expect this blog post – or any other – to fix your life. But I would like you to starting thinking about your life, and if it’s the life you really want.

Someone once said that when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. So maybe it’s time you stopped digging. Stop doing what you’ve always done, and start thinking in a different way.

Start questioning. Ultimately, it’s not about your job, it’s about you. What are your values? Are those values finding expression in your current job?

Sure you need money, but you also need to live a life that matters.

What’s your choice?


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  1. Dear Dr Phil, I'm interested to know what (or who) inspired you to write this? I have avoided that "tacit exchange" at a number of critical moments in my career but have yet to strike gold in the alternate path. Mediocrity and brilliance is separated by an almost supernatural chasm that destroys most who attempt to cross it.

    God help me to fly.

  2. Good wisdom and pretty timely I'm sure for high energy professionals like you.

    Thank God we're not all wired that way and there are followers and supporters or else there'd be no work force for those wired like you.    😉

  3. Do you want THE ILLUSION of safety, or freedom?

    "Cause that's the deal.  Christian organizations fold, reorganize, dump their dead weight, etc as about the same rate as everyone else does.

    Financial independence isn't the only path to freedom.  Some people are harder to manipulate than others.  They have knowledge, and they know how to use it.  Education can be helpful in becoming hard to exploit.  Paying attention is helpful too. 

    Assume nothing.  One of my favorite fictional characters said it best.  "Let me pass on to you the one thing I've learned about this place: No one here is exactly what he appears."   An amazing amount of useful information about people and situations is readily available.  Unfortunately, through bias, ignorance and laziness, we filter out a great deal.  I'm as guilty as the next slob where that's concerned, and I've paid dearly for it more than once.  By paying attention, we can gain at least as much useful information as we gain through formal education.

    Freedom follows knowledge and understanding in a natural progression.

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