The Bible says the meek shall inherit the earth, and I certainly wouldn’t want to quarrel with that source. I would, however, respectfully offer a modern exception to the rule. The meek shall inherit the earth, but they will not control the workplace.
American workers have learned that lesson the hard way. They did whatever their employers asked of them and they did it whenever, wherever and however they were asked. And then their employers shoved them out the door. The only thing they inherited was a pink slip.
How could they protect themselves?
For a decade or so, the conventional wisdom has given the nod to The Free Agent Nation. For those who decide they will no longer stand meekly by as their employers abuse them, the key to survival and success was entrepreneurism. All they had to do was reinvent themselves as Me, Inc..
This premise was especially alluring to Americans with their culture of independence. If they wanted to take control of their careers, they had only to work for and employ themselves.
There was only one little problem—the concept was only half right. You see, most Americans do want to work for themselves, but they want to be employed by someone else. They want to be independent, but not out on their own. They would rather be Me™ than Me, Inc..
Where’s the proof?
Remember all those folks who said they were going to leave their employers the minute the economy recovered from the 2001 recession? Well, five years later, the majority of them were still working for the same companies. They yearned to work for themselves, but they wanted someone else to be responsible for their pay. They craved independence, but were unwilling to take the risk of changing from the devil they knew to the devil they didn’t.
What’s the alternative? If free agency isn’t the answer to fatal meekness, what is?
In a turbulent workplace such as the one we face today, standing meekly by has to be replaced with standing up for ourselves. I call it making a commitment to “career activism.” And I believe the United States is now witnessing the emergence of The Career Activist Republic.
Career activists are determined to work for themselves—they expect the one-third of their lives they spend on-the-job to give them more than an inadequate paycheck and unreliable job security. And, they want to be employed by an employer—they aren’t interested in having to sell themselves as a contractor or consultant to one organization after another after another.
How do they establish such an arrangement? By trading in their meekness for action.
They take the steps necessary to keep their talent honed to its highest possible level of refinement and to establish a track record of using that talent to make a significant contribution to their employer’s success. Even in the worst of recessions, employers will compete to hire such individuals. So, while the meek shall inherit the earth, it’s career activists who have a future in the workplace.
Thanks for reading,