When I bring up this concept at my live training events, I always get quite a few skeptical looks. And I certainly understand – because most of the participants in my Better! Results seminars are employees, supervisors and managers. That means they work for someone else, draw a salary, have benefits, travel each day to a job location someone else provides, and follow a daily work schedule dictated by someone above them in the organization hierarchy.
So if that’s the case for most in the room, how is it relevant for me to tell them that they are self-employed?
Well, let’s try this angle.
In it’s simplest form, in today’s business world we all serve and report to someone else. A boss, the board, a client, or a customer across the deli counter where you’re making sandwiches. Every one of us shares the experience of serving someone else in our work roles. This is where the concept of us all being self-employed comes in.
It’s not about who pays us, assigns tasks or provides formal annual feedback. It’s simply a state of mind. Do I see those I serve in my work as customers or something else?
Try to imagine if every person in every business organization handled their work, their preparation, and their interaction with others as though they were in fact self-employed? What if we all thought, “If I’m not ready for my weekly staff meeting tomorrow I could lose the client!” Or “If I don’t do a high quality job every day – bringing measurable value to my clients – I won’t get paid.”
This is what I mean when I suggest that we’re all self-employed. It’s not whether we own and operate our own business, it’s just a state of mind in how we conduct ourselves in our work.
It applies in our personal life as well. What if we looked at our family, neighbors and others with the same view as customers? Would we not be more aware of their legitimate needs, their points of view and perspectives. Couldn’t this simple shift in focus position us to communicate better, listen more attentively, and be more present?
Please understand that I’m not suggesting that we become artificially subservient to others in our actions. The old expression that “The customer is always right” simply isn’t true. But what is true is that the ‘customer is always a customer’.
Try it for one week. Try to maintain a “What if I were self-employed and this person was my customer?” focus in interactions with co-workers, supervisors and other departments in your job. See if this perspective doesn’t bring about better results for you – on your terms.
If so, try it again for another week, and so on into the future until this perspective becomes a new and Better! habit.
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 38-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”