Of employment and independence

I greatly enjoy reading Passive Panda. Huge respect for James; if I recall rightly, I first heard about him when he personally reached out to me via email when he was first building up the website and it’s since seen some phenomenal growth.

Recently, he put out the question: are you doing yourself a disservice by working for someone else?

Much like the lifestyle design set (which goes hand in hand with the entrepreneurial set) the self-employed seem to be more and more the norm online. Too often, you’re looked down on if employed by the man.

So not surprisingly, that post pulled in a stupendous number of comments, a couple of which I’ll highlight here (the more nuanced, insightful ones):

Gregory: Working for someone else comes with the benefits of LEARNING from someone else in some instances, that would be my main counterpoint.

Illiya: It all depends on if you’re happy with your job / career or not. If you’re not, go change that. You only get ‘one’ life.

Ben: The thing is, you can work for your self and still settle for mediocrity. Just after high school, I worked in a mom-&-pop computer repair store for almost 5 years. The owners could have been very free and prosperous, but settled for being mediocre and thinking of it as “just a job”. They did themselves – and their customers – a disservice in that.

Faith: Everyone can’t work for themselves, because if we did there would be no employees.

As some astute readers of mine pointed out in an earlier post, the nature of work  is that you’re always serving somebody else.

Maybe you don’t have a boss lording it over you. But you will have clients. Those customers are paying you; and you have to deliver the goods.

Maybe you’re not a wage slave to a single company. But you are directly beholden to multiple parties, a responsibility of an entirely different kind and scale.

And some occupations just are not conducive to self employment. Teacher, economist, policy wonk.

I think it’s pretty obvious that you’re only doing yourself a disservice as an employee if you feel that you are.

But what I’ve come to realise is that we all rely on others to get by. To produce the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in. We create our own value and we exchange that for the things we need. In the post I linked to above, I originally asked if true independence is possible as an employee. But in fact, bona fide self-sufficiency is darn near impossible.


4 thoughts on “Of employment and independence

  • Reply mail@savvyscot.com April 18, 2012 at 21:46

    You make some good points and I agree that no matter what work you do, your job is to serve somebody else; whether that be by providing a service, making a product or enabling them to do their job, it it irrelevant!

  • Reply Mo' Money Mo' Houses (@momoneymohouses) April 19, 2012 at 11:46

    I’ve been feeling the same way, so many blog posts from bloggers about the benefits of be self-employed. My BF is self-employed, and it’s frickin’ hard work to make sure you have a constant flow of clients and income. I personally like being an employee for now anyways plus I love being around people all day. I think I’d go nuts if I was working from home alone all the time.

  • Reply Yakezie Carnival 4.22.12 Edition — Faithful With A Few April 23, 2012 at 03:05

    […] a stock may be classified a certain way.eemusings @ Musings of an Abstract Aucklander writes On employment and independence – Independence is a great thing to aspire to but is true self-sufficiency really […]

  • Reply Modest Money April 23, 2012 at 15:50

    I think it comes down to your personality and career choice. In my industry (website marketing) I definitely feel like i’m doing myself a disservice by working for others. Instead of building up my own business, I’m usually working my ass off making someone else money.

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