Thoughts about job security and business security

One of my clients is a large insurance provider staffed by unionized employees and (at times) other consultants like me.

While working with this client, I frequently notice a range of opinions about job security among the people who work there. For example…

  • Term employees worry about whether their term will be extended. Their level of job security is low because they know they have a term position and they’re only employed for as long as is necessary.
  • Permanent employees don’t have a lot to worry about. They’re locked in and it would be very difficult to let them go. Their job security is high… although they still need to perform their work, of course.
  • Many consultants share the same worries as the term employees. They have job security concerns (or, rather, business security concerns, since their are hired as external consultants).
  • I don’t care about job security or business security. I’m happy to have this company as a client and I’ll keep them as a client as long as I can provide value to them and as long as they keep paying me what I want to be paid, and as long as I enjoy working with them. I don’t care about job/business security because I have other clients, as well as a waiting list of prospective clients. (I don’t say that last part to brag but rather to provide the reason why job security isn’t high on my list of priorities).

(That’s not to say I NEVER worry about security. I’m a writer and I rely on my hands to write, so if I happened to break one or both hands, I’d be in trouble for a while. But in terms of finding work, I’m not really worried.)

This concept of security was driven home to me last summer when I published an ebook about how to become a freelance writer. I’ve learned a few things over the years and I shared them in an ebook, and was in contact with a number of people who aspired to freelance writer or were in the early, struggling stages. Many of those people had concerns about security: Many wanted to become freelance writers but were resistant to the idea of quitting a job to do it.

That thinking isn’t just a problem among freelance writers. You see it among many people who want to start a business but are reluctant to quit their job. For them, job security is very important and they just don’t see a certain level of business security that will make them comfortable enough to quit their job. (I faced that problem once, too, just before I started out as a writer).

With all of this in mind, I heard a podcast by Jay Abraham the other day in which he said something that really stuck with me. He said: “… security is nothing more than the faith, the confidence, and the trust you’ve got in yourself and your ability to perform.”

I like that a lot. It nicely summarizes the problems and opportunities that come with security (whether job security or business security).

The people who struggle with job security are the ones who lack confidence in their ability to perform. Quite simply, they don’t make themselves essential enough to the organization to transfer from term to permanent. Conversely, the people who have high job security are the ones who have confidence in their ability to perform. (Even in a union environment, some amount of performance is necessary).

It’s the same for business people — consultants, freelance writers, entrepreneurs. If you lack security, it’s because you don’t have the confidence in your ability to perform. If you have security, it’s because you do have that confidence.

Here’s the important part: It’s not confidence in maintaining the statis quo we’re talking about but rather confidence in your ability to perform. So if you lack confidence — whether in your job or in your business, then you doubt your ability to perform.

So what needs to change?

Your ability to perform needs to change and then your confidence will change.

In a job, I’m talking about your ability to deliver your work ahead of schedule and above expectations. To be proactive and to become the “go-to” person in a crisis. In a business, I’m talking about your ability to market and sell like crazy and to make your customers so reliant on you that they wouldn’t know what they’d do without you.

If you do those things (without ignoring the other important things), you’ll improve your ability to perform… and that will improve your confidence in your ability to perform.

And here’s the ironic part: The better you become at those things, the more security you have… and the more options you have! Therefore, you are free to leave what you’re doing (a job or a business) to go do something else (a different job or a new business) without losing a beat because you have confidence in your ability to perform. It’s funny: Your security gives you greater flexibility.

And if your job suddenly vanishes, you’re not worried because your security doesn’t vanish with it.

Security. It really has nothing to do with longevity at your desk or the number of clients you have. It has to do with how confident you are that, when required, you can step up and excel.

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