Why is economic disobedience an act of disobedience? It is the professional but unwavering determination to reject the three debasements of the modern workplace.
Career activists commit economic disobedience by:
1. Rejecting the debasing workplace definitions used by employers. They will not agree to be labeled either as an “employee’ or, if they’re in transition, as a “job seeker.” Instead, they define themselves as a “person of talent” and work to express and experience that description.
2. Rejecting the debasing career structures used by employers. They will not limit their personal fulfillment by working on a corporate career ladder or for a gold watch. Instead, they become their own “career captain” and work toward goals with meaning and value for them.
3. Rejecting the debasing development policies used by employers. They will not work for employers that interfere with or restrain their acquisition of ever greater expertise. Instead, they reset themselves as a “work in progress” and take charge of their own development.
These are not philosophical concepts. They are not simply topics for discussion with no relation to what happens outside this blog. They are a plan of action – a set of principles that will have a real and enduring impact on the quality of your work experience, but only if they are practiced each and every day.
To put it bluntly, economic disobedience isn’t for those who think everything is just fine in corporate America. Or will be as soon as the economy gets better. And, economic disobedience doesn’t matter to those who accept their second class status at work. Or believe it is all they can ever hope to achieve.
No, economic disobedience makes sense only to those who recognize the peril in the current behavior of many American employers. It is appropriate only for people who are convinced that they deserve the full rights of citizenship in the workplace as well as everywhere else in society. And, economic disobedience appeals only to working men and women who are determined to bring opportunity back to the land that invented it for both themselves and their kids.
Unlike its kissing cousin, civil, economic disobedience doesn’t happen by marching against corporate greed. Or by occupying public parks. Rather, economic disobedience occurs in the workplace both as a proactive affirmation of one’s own gift of talent and as a daily declaration of independence from corporate debasement. As I depict in my novel, A Multitude of Hope, economic disobedience isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is, to quote a phrase, for everyone else who yearns to breathe free in the workplace.