Your Job or Your Work

Domino Sugars from Federal Hill

I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that a job is just a unit of measurement of work. Meaning, you don’t need to be an employee to find fulfilling and secure work. You need to work to find work. I also mean this in the sense that we sometimes think that we’re built for one career, when we’re really just a series of skill sets in search of fulfillment.

Journalists are discovering this. As newspaper jobs dry up, they’re finding work as corporate storytellers and marketers, copywriters and information makers. Photographers are learning that photography might just be one arrow in the quiver, and that they have other callings as well. IT professionals are learning that if they “embed” with business units, they stand a better chance of keeping their role in-house instead of falling prey to outsourcing. And several people are learning that they can be the outsourcing team, by picking up work from companies that need help and don’t necessarily want to send it overseas.

Many people worry about their job, but forget that it’s vital to keep networking and building relationships if they intend to stay busy with important and meaningful work. Your boss isn’t looking to find meaningful work for you. Your boss is just trying to get through the day and hit some numbers. Your family might want you to find meaningful work, but they can’t do all the lifting. Your school isn’t preparing you for work; they’re educating you to give you a base set of tools to become useful after you leave their institution.

It’s you. And it’s your mindset. And it’s your shaking free of the Matrix that holds you to the belief that being an employee is secure. You are, and forever more will be, someone who has a portfolio career, someone who is developing several projects, one of which may or may not be a salaried position. You’re here to work. You’re here to make meaning. But you’re not here to fill a job. That time is past.

Let’s get to work, shall we?

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  • http://www.websuccesscoach.com Demetria

    Absolutely, I’m here to work! Salaried positions aren’t the end-all of careers and job fulfillment. We have to find those things for ourselves. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://www.dramaqueensguide.com Nicola

    I was thrilled to discover the phrase “portfolio career!” I had been expressing it as “I think I’m just the kind of person who’s going to be doing odds and ends work for the rest of her life” which sounds so much less of a choice. I absolutely believe that interesting people have lots of interests and naturally want to spend time doing them. Cutting yourself down to just one thing seems like a recipe for dissatisfaction.

  • http://www.dramaqueensguide.com Nicola

    I was thrilled to discover the phrase “portfolio career!” I had been expressing it as “I think I’m just the kind of person who’s going to be doing odds and ends work for the rest of her life” which sounds so much less of a choice. I absolutely believe that interesting people have lots of interests and naturally want to spend time doing them. Cutting yourself down to just one thing seems like a recipe for dissatisfaction.

  • http://twitter.com/HoundDogSM HoundDog SocialMedia

    Chris, I am printing this sucker out and putting it over my desk. Truer words couldn’t be spoken – thanks for articulating what’s been running around my head!

    Best regards,
    Jill

  • http://www.kevingainey.com Kevin Gainey

    No matter who signs the paycheck, you’re still in charge of your “career”, ie, your work! Another great reminder. Thanks Chris.

  • http://www.kevingainey.com Kevin Gainey

    No matter who signs the paycheck, you’re still in charge of your “career”, ie, your work! Another great reminder. Thanks Chris.

  • http://twitter.com/josuediaz josuediaz

    In summary, MINDSET is it. :) Incredible way to frame the new reality we find ourselves in, Chris.

    These are exciting times!

  • http://twitter.com/JeffGreenhouse Jeff Greenhouse

    This is dead-on. The useful application of our individual skillset will continue to change as the world around us changes. We may operate in a particular industry or field for our whole life, but there will be few lifelong jobs, and a valuable role today may be a single push of a Jetson’s-like button in the near future. We need to evolve our skills, grow our perspective and above all else, remain intellectually limber.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Chris, ,

    The concept of a job is a legacy of the industrial age.

    I think it behooves us at this point to do the things that make us feel stronger. And, for everyone that will be different. But you need to tap into what gives you a lift – then it’s not work any more.

    • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

      Ivan

      I agree but we still need to work to get there and that is not always an easy road. We need to work to find work which sometimes when things are not falling into place the way that we want them to, we do see it as work. I like many of us here, love what we do and being peeled away from it to get out into the real word is more work than what we do all day but that is when times are real good and the bank account is fed nicely. When things get a bit hairy is when the bank account is hungry or starving and we have to really work hard, harder than then guy next to us and harder than the guy next to him to stand out and be the one hired or in some cases when employed by a company, to not be the one to be laid off. And sometimes that working hard means digging deep to show your entire skill set and not just the task that you have been designated for. This is where we do find that strength you speak of and we feel stronger.

      I am so on board with that part as when we feel good about what we are doing we are so strong and that strength is what motivates us to work harder than anyone but yet it is not work at all, now is it?

      @SuzanneVara

      • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

        Hi Suzanne,

        Exactly, we still need to roll up our sleeves and get stuff done.

        I feel we need to think in terms of being ‘business owners’ rather than ‘business employees’ even on our own small scale.

        CB made the point a while back that 9/11 changed his perspective on many things as was a driver in formulating his escape velocity. I’ve seen others go thru their own 9/11s in different ways and, I guess this is what I was trying to say, ultimately we’re on our own.

        The days of big business taking care of ‘us’ are fading fast… which may be a blessing in disguise if we can use it :)

  • http://twitter.com/kirkistan Kirk Livingston

    It is so useful to keep hearing this. Almost every day I ask “What is my work?” and I find myself answering it differently. Some of my work results in pay (I’m grateful for that work). Some results in helping others. Some is thinking/writing/conversation that prepares me for more/better service. Thanks for this post.

  • http://damangmedia.com/ Matt Clark

    Do what you love, love what you do! Work is about self fulfillment. You put it right on being creative and offering the best service you can in everything you do. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://pmerrill.com/ paulmerrill

      Matt – I agree with everything you said except “work is about self fulfillment”. That *should* be a central component in what we do to make a living… but work is by nature “work”. It’s not always going to be easy.

      • http://damangmedia.com/ Matt Clark

        I can see that, however everything we do is work don’t you think? It only sounds bad if you think of work as a bad thing, I find work as just a process of anything I do. I work at it! Thanks for sharing :-)

        • http://pmerrill.com/ paulmerrill

          Great point, Matt. We need to work at whatever we do! Staying stagnant is the sure way to fail.

        • http://pmerrill.com/ paulmerrill

          Great point, Matt. We need to work at whatever we do! Staying stagnant is the sure way to fail.

  • Chris

    I needed to be reminded of this today. Thanks so much, Chris.

  • Chris

    I needed to be reminded of this today. Thanks so much, Chris.

  • Heather Masson

    I loved what you said – you need to work to find work. That just hits the nail on the head. You can’t expect to get result without doing anything to get there. Great reality check

  • Anonymous

    Two totally different reactions. First, is that the Domino Building outside of Baltimore? Second, I completely agree. We need to take control over our own careers; it’s foolish to expect our bosses to always have our backs.

    • Ktylerconk

      It is the Domino Building. I took the photograph!

  • http://jessierice.com Jessie Rice

    I’m your new biggest fan.

  • http://mydarabell.com/ Dara Bell

    This post hits a cord, (is that an expression). I have been looking at the labour market, largely because Gary Vee, Tom Peters and Seth Godin all said that The internet was changing, that EVERYTHING was changing. I looked at it deeply I am all-angles-guy and said what about WORK?, maybe you got me thinking this way too!

    Looking at the economy in the UK and U.S one thing is sure things have changed, there are no secure jobs, there are no cushy public jobs. The new gov wants to cut spending to all public bodies, it means my mum is closing offices (free office equipment for me) but really it means PEOPLE are losing work.

    I have worked out spending 4 weeks drawing up business plans is worth it and that plotting a course roughly makes me double what I can get on the open labour market. I decided sometime ago I was worth more than the minimum wage. I depart from Seth Godin in blaming the education system. My school taught me great lessions on keeping going. I had targets and rules of responsibility that make me GOAL orientated as hell. Growing up inner city Dublin and depressed north also gave me alot of self-determination. I am very business minded and focused on basics as a result. This pehaps is the missing ingredient that was not mentioned in Linchpin.

    I do agree with Seth that standing out is best way through the current crisis, I think it provides opportunity, in Green Sector, in Social Media, and many other new emerging sectors, even re-inventing work, as you mention here. I suspect the crises is bigger than what can be gleaned from Brand YOU or books like that. I think if Tom Peters was to rewrite that for 2010 it would begin.

    Everything has changed, have YOU?

  • http://mydarabell.com/ Dara Bell

    This post hits a cord, (is that an expression). I have been looking at the labour market, largely because Gary Vee, Tom Peters and Seth Godin all said that The internet was changing, that EVERYTHING was changing. I looked at it deeply I am all-angles-guy and said what about WORK?, maybe you got me thinking this way too!

    Looking at the economy in the UK and U.S one thing is sure things have changed, there are no secure jobs, there are no cushy public jobs. The new gov wants to cut spending to all public bodies, it means my mum is closing offices (free office equipment for me) but really it means PEOPLE are losing work.

    I have worked out spending 4 weeks drawing up business plans is worth it and that plotting a course roughly makes me double what I can get on the open labour market. I decided sometime ago I was worth more than the minimum wage. I depart from Seth Godin in blaming the education system. My school taught me great lessions on keeping going. I had targets and rules of responsibility that make me GOAL orientated as hell. Growing up inner city Dublin and depressed north also gave me alot of self-determination. I am very business minded and focused on basics as a result. This pehaps is the missing ingredient that was not mentioned in Linchpin.

    I do agree with Seth that standing out is best way through the current crisis, I think it provides opportunity, in Green Sector, in Social Media, and many other new emerging sectors, even re-inventing work, as you mention here. I suspect the crises is bigger than what can be gleaned from Brand YOU or books like that. I think if Tom Peters was to rewrite that for 2010 it would begin.

    Everything has changed, have YOU?

  • http://mydarabell.com/ Dara Bell

    Afterthought
    Most agree with Ivan, viewing employment as a job is dead. Think that basic fundamentals in a book like Little Big Things count alot too!

  • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

    Let’s get back to being innovators and entrepreneurs shall we?

    I think that what you’ve said here resonates to most of the driven people that measure their career from a unit of work. The job unit’s are not even on the radar for people like us.

    Great stuff!

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com steveborgman

    The biggest takeaway I get from this article is the importance of having a structured networking plan for reaching out and building relationships for a lifetime within the broad industries I’m involved with. Chris, do you have some suggestions as to good books regarding formulating a networking plan?

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Very interesting. Awhile back, when the economies all over the world were crashing into oblivion, my dad/boss wrote about how it’s just that kind of time period that creates lots of entrepreneurs. All of these people who had accumulated so much experience may have felt like it had all been for naught after they lost their jobs, but their body of work was still intact. It’s something that can be pointed to. It doesn’t just float off into the sunset most of the time.

    Also, it’s a really good idea not to burn bridges with anyone, not just because you’ll regret it at the most inopportune times, but also because every person is a door to opportunity.

    A most thought-provoking post, sir.

    Now back to my work-filled job :)

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Very interesting. Awhile back, when the economies all over the world were crashing into oblivion, my dad/boss wrote about how it’s just that kind of time period that creates lots of entrepreneurs. All of these people who had accumulated so much experience may have felt like it had all been for naught after they lost their jobs, but their body of work was still intact. It’s something that can be pointed to. It doesn’t just float off into the sunset most of the time.

    Also, it’s a really good idea not to burn bridges with anyone, not just because you’ll regret it at the most inopportune times, but also because every person is a door to opportunity.

    A most thought-provoking post, sir.

    Now back to my work-filled job :)

  • http://twitter.com/noircine Michael Trent

    Yes, this makes me think how the structure of work, being a worker is changing. In the post-modern view, how we work now as humans, our experience of work is flux compared to the past where one worked in one industry or in one job for 10-15 years. In the past, Marketers marketed one element or even produced that one element to market to one audience…now marketers (writers, bloggers, etc.) share/market content that all ready exists and make new content, marketing to various niches and segments. Audiences can reply to this information—a new level of working—customer service that just about never ends. Workers are becoming the jack of all trades multiplied by the Internet and ever flowing technology. Life in a cloud…:)

  • http://twitter.com/rebrivved rebeccarivera

    I work in a monumentally insecure industry — advertising. I started by writing in design groups, then embraced interactive, then made TV spots, then direct marketing, B2B, moved back to digital when it got interesting again, have become adept at social and am now looking forward to what’s next: UX, mobile… No one prepared the path for me. But everyone I built a relationship along the way helped in one way or another. It’s easy to say “my industry doesn’t work like that” or “I’m a specialist who will always be relevant”. Sadly, I know plenty of biotech folks, recruiters, and general advertising types who made those excuses for years and now find themselves unemployed with no hope of a way back in. Many of them contact me often asking for advice. Sadder still, few of them take it.

  • http://twitter.com/ClarabelaMedia Clara Mathews

    This really hit home for me. Companies used to look out for their employees, providing security and retirement benefits, but no longer is that the case.

    It makes more sense (especially in this economy) to start your own small business, instead of depending on a company who will downsize you in favor of increased profits.

  • Megan

    Couldn’t agree more! Unfortunately, not every job is secure, which is why it’s SO important to continuously work towards achieving what you set your mind to.

  • http://www.mazakaro.com Rahul @ MazaKaro

    i liked the title , and what you said is new and i liked it , you were right any Way ,you have to work to get satisfying results ! well done thank You

  • Anonymous

    I am going to speak to some college journalism majors about this very thing tonight! Ask yourself, “What do you do well?” and DO IT! Don’t wait for someone to give you permission! Brilliant.

  • Anonymous

    I am going to speak to some college journalism majors about this very thing tonight! Ask yourself, “What do you do well?” and DO IT! Don’t wait for someone to give you permission! Brilliant.

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    Chris,

    With a few simple words a few weeks ago I mentioned the word career and you corrected me. I interpreted some of the points you included in this post with a few words.

    I see it every day how my ex-coworkers hold on to a job thinking they are secure and are unhappy. The reality is they are not secure and similar to what you said your boss is there to meet goals not get you more work. I went on my own a bit more than 2 years ago and that is exactly what I have tried to do find work.

    The only occasions work has found me was because of previous relationships and seeds I had planted in the past. I also see many people going to school with no purpose or vision. Some of them think that by grabbing an extra degree they have everything planned out.

    I wish more students where proactive and realized that they also have to look for work and like you said an education is just the base of what can be accomplished.

    I do agree that moving IT Folks into Business Units does really bring value to the equation that might be another reason why they might not get outsourced.

    I will keep on looking for work and based on your recommendation I will probably not use the word career again for while.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I believe that this is why many people are blogging. It’s not just a way to earn money quick (although it seems that this might be why). Even in government jobs like a public college (where I currently have a job) there are no such thing as secure work.

  • http://www.andover-it.co.uk Andover IT

    Hi Chris

    A friend in a rather well paid job said to me a few weeks ago that despite his monthly salary, as a freelancer you have more job security.

    My initial reaction was not true, as you are constantly looking for the next project, the next client. Then he said, he might get a pay off but he could be sacked / made redundant tomorrow. I at least have control over my future.

    He had a point. As freelancers we get used to rejection – my first proposal rejection was awful, but you learn from it and deal with it. Someone with 10+ years at a company is unlikely to be able to shrug it off and move on straight away.

    Maybe it’s time people stopped looking at “jobs for life” and started viewing life as a series of projects (jobs) that you earn and learn from and move on.

  • Anonymous

    A purely inspirational post. Well done!!!

  • http://www.suddenlymarketing.com Suddenly Jamie

    It’s important to think of your work as a continuum, not a final destination. Forget “job.” A job is a finite task or project that belongs on a To Do list. “Work” is a living, breathing process that should evolve over time the same way you do. A job is something you try to escape. Work is something you try to fulfill. A job limits you. Work expands your world – through experiences, thoughts, ideas, and connections. A job may feel safer and more secure because it’s easy to label, quantify, and stick in a box. But a job is actually riskier than work. You do not own your job – someone else does. Someone else can take it away. But, your work is part of you. No one can take it from you. Your work can change, adapt, and grow to meet new challenges and take you on new adventures. It will never let you down. If you ask me, that’s the much better bet. ;)

  • http://www.justbefrank.com Richard Carmichael

    This is a great post Chris. Gone are the days when the system takes care of us. There is no such thing as job security anymore. You can’t just put in your time and expect things to stay the same or get better.

    Your boss isn’t looking to find meaningful work for you. Your family might want you to find meaningful work, but they can’t do it for you either. You are, and forever more will be, someone who has to find your own way. You are here to create meaning. You are here to add value. But you are not here to fill a job. That time is over.

    It is all up to you now to come up with the idea, to develop it and to push it forward, even when it seems hard and nobody is listening. It is up to you come up with a vision of what you want to do and where you want to go. To distill it down to a sentence that someone else can understand and then to rally up the troops that will support your vision and eventually become your evangelists.

    If you have not found your vision yet, it is not going to come to you. You have to go out there and find it. Its out there. Go get it. Opportunities are everywhere.

    Think broadly. Watch, listen and learn. Seek to understand—then solve the problem.

  • Bburns

    A great conversation tagging on this post might be “vocation versus avocation”. (Although many of us just simply need a “vacation”!)

    Great post, and one that truly hints at much, much more that is needing to be explored and plumbed by each one of us. This is can lead to asking questions such as, “What makes me truly happy?”, “Why do I do what I do?”, and “What is my purpose here, and am I fulfilling it?”

  • Bburns

    A great conversation tagging on this post might be “vocation versus avocation”. (Although many of us just simply need a “vacation”!)

    Great post, and one that truly hints at much, much more that is needing to be explored and plumbed by each one of us. This is can lead to asking questions such as, “What makes me truly happy?”, “Why do I do what I do?”, and “What is my purpose here, and am I fulfilling it?”

  • Bburns

    A great conversation tagging on this post might be “vocation versus avocation”. (Although many of us just simply need a “vacation”!)

    Great post, and one that truly hints at much, much more that is needing to be explored and plumbed by each one of us. This is can lead to asking questions such as, “What makes me truly happy?”, “Why do I do what I do?”, and “What is my purpose here, and am I fulfilling it?”

  • Bburns

    A great conversation tagging on this post might be “vocation versus avocation”. (Although many of us just simply need a “vacation”!)

    Great post, and one that truly hints at much, much more that is needing to be explored and plumbed by each one of us. This is can lead to asking questions such as, “What makes me truly happy?”, “Why do I do what I do?”, and “What is my purpose here, and am I fulfilling it?”

  • Bburns

    A great conversation tagging on this post might be “vocation versus avocation”. (Although many of us just simply need a “vacation”!)

    Great post, and one that truly hints at much, much more that is needing to be explored and plumbed by each one of us. This is can lead to asking questions such as, “What makes me truly happy?”, “Why do I do what I do?”, and “What is my purpose here, and am I fulfilling it?”