Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated. (Nelson Mandela)
How often do you feel that your employer takes more than their side of the bargain? My experience, throughout my career was that there was certainly a straightforward equation. The more you earn. The more you pay.
By pay, I don’t mean financially (although that’s a whole other article). I mean that there is an informal contract that you agree to which basically means that you exchange time for money.
What’s wrong with that? Well, first, man and woman does not live by bread alone. Yes, money does buy you stuff, and incredible wealth can sometimes buy you time. But most happiness comes from the smallest, strangest of pleasures, it’s rarely to do with the money that you earn, but it almost certainly involves time.
Let’s face it. Most of us, even those with substantial incomes, are not financially rich enough to take our foot off the employment pedal. And I for one have been at my most miserable when I earned much more than I do now. That was because I had plenty of disposable income, but no time. No time for friends, or spontaneity, or joy.
Now I’m going to aim the next salvo at those of you who are in a job because you think you need the money. And by the way, I’m there in that same boat with you. Most of us have periods of time in our lives when we need to find work to bring in the bacon. The fabulous thing about freelancing is that you can enter into these contracts with one eye on the contract and another eye on the exit. If you are truly freelancing you can see your contract in terms of a straight exchange of skills for money. There’s always the option to stop.
But if you’ve entered into an employment contract that all changes. You give up your freedom, but you also transmogrify into an acquiescent shadow of your true self.
You give up your freedom, but you also transmogrify into an acquiescent shadow of your true self.
You stay a little later, to be helpful. You take on board your colleagues’ various personal and professional problems, because that’s what a good team player does. You accept that just doing the job well isn’t really what’s expected of you, what they really want is to have all of you. There will almost certainly be a ‘we don’t do things like that around here’ signal, should you be mad enough to deviate from the groupthink.
The simple truth is that when you work for yourself you can always choose who to surround yourself with. You create your own team of supporters and collaborators, and by and large they will probably be forging their independent way just like you. It won’t matter to them that you think differently – they expect it and encourage it.
Believe me. It isn’t worth the money to compromise on the freedom of your independence. There are plenty of ways to create income that don’t involve you exchanging your precious time for money. So start preparing the ground for your exit. I’m looking for my passport and my exit route now.
What’s your experience? Let us know in the comments below.