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VOL. 129 | NO. 24 | Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Working for Yourself

By Susan Drake

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Susan Drake

Who’s your boss? Is it your manager, client or customer?

What if the answer is you? To improve your personal power, imagine that you are the only person judging your decisions and your work. Only you are responsible for giving yourself a pat on the back or a coaching session. I’m not talking about being self-critical; I’m talking about being self-reflective, without regard for how others see you.

Pretend you’re walking around your office. Look at everyone there, and see if you can recognize a:

– Self-doubter, who expects perfection and constantly blames himself for not doing better.

– Self-motivator, who has high standards and tries to always live up to those, using mistakes as learning experiences.

– Chameleon, who only works to please others and constantly looks outside herself for feedback on whether she’s done well or not.

If you are a 1 or a 3, you probably second-guess yourself, and you’ll need lots of assurance from others that you’re OK.

When you are a 2, motivated by your own high standards, you will seek improvement because you want to feel proud of your work and feel good when you achieve your own goals. Your value barometer is in your own mind and gut. And it shows. Being true to yourself usually leads others to trust your talent and ability.

Most of the high achievers I know are independently committed to excellence, not because it’s a measure of their worth, but because they have a desire to make a positive contribution. They want to go home at the end of the day knowing that they’ve done their best, or at least given it their best shot. No regrets.

Over the years, I’ve laughed at the concept of empowerment – as if someone else could give you the power to do something. You give yourself the power by working for yourself, not for any other boss. (By the way, not everyone wants the responsibility of empowerment. And there’s nothing wrong with that.)

But do you notice that lately, we’re no longer “empowered” by someone else, we are now “engaged.” Except for someone with a big smile introducing their significant other, I’ve never heard anyone say with passion, “I’m engaged!” I like the word “inspired”; that feels like passion to me.

How do you become your own boss? Not by starting your own business. Direct yourself by:

– Writing down your three most important standards, such as integrity, honesty, humility, taking the time to do things right, being fair to others, giving yourself the freedom to make mistakes and so on.

– As you go through your day, check your list and see if you’re living up to those.

– When you deviate, write down what you wish you had done in a different way.

– At the end of the day, write down the things you feel good about.

Now, practice being the best boss you ever had.

Susan Drake is a marketing and communications professional. Contact her at susand@spellbindersinc.com.

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