A Badge of Honor?

Thoughts on Working for Yourself

I may very well be unemployable.

Is it because I’ve been freelancing for my entire professional career?


It’s not that I have a problem with authority. When paired with humility and respect, I will gladly acknowledge the authority of someone else with different experiences from my own.

Should I be proud of this?

After all, this sort of lifestyle is supposed to be sexy and cutting edge. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss?

I’ll tell you who: someone who needs short-term stability, security, and constant direction.

Let’s be clear.

There is absolutely zero criticism here for wanting any of these things. In fact, I also want these things, just not at this moment. I want to create these things for myself and others on a more long-term scale.

Since working for my self during my entire professional career, I’ve noticed a general equation that describes the necessary personality:

Audacity + Determination + Vision + Humility = Being Your Own Boss

Audacity — This is something most freelancers and entrepreneurs have in common. In order to work for yourself, you generally have to have the audacity to think you can provide value to others in a better, more efficient way. Otherwise, why go through the trouble of building your own business?

Determination — The honeymoon phase can wear off sooner than you think. It takes patience and a clear purpose to push through the hurdles of being your own boss. Without determination, you won’t get very far on your own. Personally, I remain determined because, in my opinion, I have no other choice.

Vision — I think this is by far the most important part of the overall equation. It’s easy to jump into working for yourself day-to-day, but I’ve seen quicker burnout among those who didn’t take the time to identify their long-term vision. Some people only freelance as a means to an end and some are in it for the long haul. Either decision is fine, as long as it’s an intentional decision.

Humility — Really? Yes, really. Although it’s easy to let this sort of lifestyle go to your head, it really does take more humility than you think. Each day, you come across problems that you have no idea how to solve. Instead of wasting time (which is the most valuable asset you have), deploying the humility to ask for help goes a long way.

At the end of the day, I really would rather work 60–80 hours a week creating value on my own terms than 40 hours a week for someone else. Call it stubbornness, pride, or anything else you want. You can even call it a badge of honor.

Personally, I call it second nature.

Do you work for yourself? What would you add to the equation above? 
Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter at @williamfrazr.

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