Do You Have What it Takes to Be Your Own Boss?

Now that many people are working from home, there is a greater need than ever to be your own boss. There is no one there to provide you guidance, and even though we have tools and technology that can help us stay connected to our peers, including our managers and leaders, you are mostly alone. You are left mainly to your own devices (an interesting word that might now be read as literal).

The Plight of the Knowledge Worker

When you work for a company, you have a manager or a supervisor of some kind. They are responsible for ensuring that you are doing the right work correctly and producing the right results. Your manager has a manager who is doing the same as part of a hierarchal structure that businesses use to organize themselves. It’s mostly a form of a command and control approach that has been used for centuries.

But you are now a knowledge worker, and one of the primary changes in how we work now is that you mostly have to decide for yourself what you need to do, when you need to do it, and how you get it done. You need to be able to do these things for yourself, and there will rarely be someone watching you do your work.

Most people do more and better work when they are being watched. They put forth more effort more consistently, doing more work than they would otherwise, which brings us to our central point. Because you are a knowledge worker, and because you are not being observed, you have to be your own boss.

The Power of Self-Discipline

The starting point for being your own boss is exercising self-discipline. You have to exercise the self-control necessary to do your work when no one is there to tell you what to do and when most of your work has no deadline. If you can’t be your own boss when you work for someone else, you will find that you are going to be a lousy boss in the future.

Unless you are a customer service rep assigned to monitor and reply to email, then answering email isn’t your job. An inability or an unwillingness to close your inbox and do the work necessary to produce the results you need, is a lack of self-discipline, proving you need other people to provide you with something to do, even if almost nothing that comes into your inbox is going to help you produce the results you need.

There are four screens of infinite distractions, most of which are never more than a few inches away from you at all times. You have a computer, a tablet, a smartphone, and a television. There are unlimited distractions available to you, and your effectiveness depends on your ability to avoid the abundant novelty that is the internet and social media.

If you are unable to resist the many distractions and focus on your work, you are not your boss. Everything else is.

Becoming Your Own Boss

You are already your own boss, even if you have been doing a poor job of it up until now.

The first thing you need to do as your own boss is decide with clarity what outcomes you need to produce each day, each week, each month, and each quarter. Without clarity on what you need to do, you are going to find yourself drifting, producing few or none of the outcomes for which you are responsible. No other human being should have to tell you what you need to do after the age of, say, fourteen.

You also need to plan your days and weeks, which is best done before your week begins. Deciding when to do your work and blocking the time on your calendar is also something you must do for yourself–lest you risk someone having to do it for you. An unwillingness to micromanage yourself means you need someone to manage you.

Exercising your self-discipline is the key to accomplishing things and doing meaningful work. When you look up after ninety-minutes have passed, you will either be looking at the productivity of ninety-minutes of work or you will have recognized that you have done nothing over those ninety-minutes, wasting time, and proving you are not the boss of you.

A Few Words for Those in Sales

Few roles match selling when it comes to being your own boss, even if you have an excellent sales manager who invests time in ensuring your success. You do much of your work alone, and many of the most important outcomes you create are yours alone.

No one should ever have to ask you to make your calls and pursue your dream clients. You have to do the work of prospecting and creating new opportunities on your own, even though no one is going to look at your results at the end of the day. You are also going to have to plan your sales call, working to understand how you can best create value for your prospective client.

Because there are enormous variations in sales results, you have to figure out for yourself what you need to do and when you need to do it if you are going to make your plan. Sales success is individual, which is why those who are disciplined about their work tend to always find their way towards the top of the stacked rankings while those who are not their own boss find themselves looking up at the many names above theirs.

This post feels like it’s about your work, but it isn’t. It’s about your life. It’s about who you are now who you want to be, and what you are going to have to do to become your own boss, living a life of your choosing, and producing the results that are important to you. If you haven’t done so already, promote yourself, and become the boss.

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