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The employee mindset is disempowering; TL;DR don't be an employee

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Employee mindset: Like children, we look for a benevolent figure that adopts you into a group and decides who is 'good' and 'bad', giving 'just' rewards. This figure is the employer, the company. Even though they have given you abundant evidence that they don't care about you at all.

On this forum, I guess we would word it like this "The employee mindset is disempowering." But I have a bias here (I'm an entrepreneur, so I want to defend the in-group). I work hard on thinking clearly, but I can be a victim of ideologies/twitter BS like everyone else 🙂

Given how the percentage of employees is (estimation) at least 10:1 to employers... the idea of being an employee must have some merit!

So what's the problem with the employee mindset: Well, that benevolent figure that gives just rewards doesn't exist in adults. Only children get to experience it with their parents and teachers. In a way, wanting to be an employee is wanting to continue a period of your life that should have concluded: it's arrested development.

Children have little agency, little power. Adults who take a job want to continue that (abusive) relationship because that's all they know (a false sense of security in what's known!).

Is it safe to assume that employees are less well-developed than anyone who is independent (an entrepreneur)?

I know I have a bias because I'm one. And I hate that this narrative makes me look at the world in black and white, entrepreneur vs employee mindset. This line in the sand is infantile too, 'we entrepreneurs are the good guys'.

The line doesn't imply success. You can be an unsuccessful entrepreneur and you still get my respect. a freelancer with a good mailing list and reputation, even if struggling to make ends meet, has more independence than a corporate drone. So this is not about success (standard version, society-approved 'house with a picket fence'): it's about freedom.

Counterargument: employees with lots of job security

The most extreme example I know is gov workers in Spain, 'funcionarios'. They are so unfireable that they have to do next to nothing. Performing well is actually a de-merit: it could damage your friendship with coworkers because you would make them look bad.

To a certain extent, this happens also in big companies, where you can 'hide under the table' without anybody noticing for weeks. In Germany, My ex girlfriend got promoted to a position where she had nothing to do for near 4 months. In Germany, you are unfireable because of the labor laws (after 6 month probation, it costs a fortune to fire someone).

These unfireable employees have loads of freedom. In fact, they enjoy:

  1. Long vacations where they are completely off. No thinking about work.
  2. No accountability whatsoever
  3. Freedom/power from having a predictable environment around you. You know your salary will come in next month, and the month after...

If you can survive the boredom and put your value as a person somewhere far from the work you do (not so easy!), getting one of these positions could be a shortcut to power/freedom.

In Europe, aiming at these 'safe jobs' is the goal of most of the population. Very few get there in Spain as it implies very competitive exams to get a gov job. In Germany, anyone working for a big corporation get a safe job.

Action: is this belief 'being an employee is disempowering' something I should remove from my thinking?

What do you think?

 

Lucio Buffalmano and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman

Hi leaderoffun!

There is a book that deals exactly about the kind of jobs you speak about in the second part of your post: Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber. Very funny reading.

On your question, my thought is that specific situations are too variable to define with one single category. There are some people who certainly have no (work) ambition, and that's ok. There are others who try to exploit the situation by doing the less they can and taking the more they can. And there are others still who are learning and growing, and in time come to see that in principle being an employee is going to limit their success.

Albeit that is not even always true, because there are also some very well-paid and well-respected employees.

But it is true of course that, as an employee, you will always have a ceiling and be at the mercy of your employer. While, as entrepreneur, the sky's the limit.

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman

Yes, there are certainly shades of grey and plenty of exceptions.

Plenty of employees are wealthy, happy, empowered, and driven.

I think that the media tends to ascribe to entrepreneurship the best qualities and gloss over the not-so-good ones.
And, as you correctly say, the entrepreneurs are more than happy to zero-in on the positive one (and gloss over the not-so-positive ones).

Among the not-so-good ones are higher Machiavellianism (not rarely used to hype up average products), higher power (as in "power craving"), higher rebelliousness and authority-related issues, and maybe even high selfishness and lower conscientiousness (unless it's on that specific thing they love and/or that has high returns for them).

That being said, on average, I think it's true that entrepreneurs have a higher degree of personal power.
And that, on average, if you take 1.000 employees and 1.000 entrepreneurs, then the employees enjoy a smaller degree of personal power, choice, and freedom.

And if we're talking about the mindset of "give me security", then most certainly that's not very empowering.

John Freeman and leaderoffun have reacted to this post.
John Freemanleaderoffun
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from leaderoffun on April 22, 2022, 11:24 am

The most extreme example I know is gov workers in Spain, 'funcionarios'. They are so unfireable that they have to do next to nothing. Performing well is actually a de-merit: it could damage your friendship with coworkers because you would make them look bad.

To a certain extent, this happens also in big companies, where you can 'hide under the table' without anybody noticing for weeks. In Germany, My ex girlfriend got promoted to a position where she had nothing to do for near 4 months. In Germany, you are unfireable because of the labor laws (after 6 month probation, it costs a fortune to fire someone).

These unfireable employees have loads of freedom. In fact, they enjoy:

  1. Long vacations where they are completely off. No thinking about work.
  2. No accountability whatsoever
  3. Freedom/power from having a predictable environment around you. You know your salary will come in next month, and the month after...

If you can survive the boredom and put your value as a person somewhere far from the work you do (not so easy!), getting one of these positions could be a shortcut to power/freedom.

In Europe, aiming at these 'safe jobs' is the goal of most of the population. Very few get there in Spain as it implies very competitive exams to get a gov job. In Germany, anyone working for a big corporation get a safe job.

LOL I had to laugh at the part of "performing well is a demerit" 😀

But yeah, you well outline some of the advantages that come with the "easy life", and that certainly is more true now with more remote work available.

There was a time in my life as an employee where my goal was "get the most while doing the least possible".
I wanted to get a book that was semi-famous in France about a woman that spent her whole career doing nothing at EDF (wasn't able to find it though).
And I was even half-thinking one day to write a similar book, but rather than doing "completely nothing", how to do "very little while still advancing".

So I had a major employee mindset, with a Machiavellian bent.

Back then being an entrepreneur didn't make sense to me based on the statistics that 9/10 startups fail -who would want to pursue a path with such a high failure rate, I thought-.

Obviously, I changed mindset and personality A LOT since then -luckily-.

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John Freemanleaderoffun
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Hello guys,

I agree with all of you. I think it depends on the person.

At the top it’s better to be an entrepreneur for all the reasons said above.

On average it’s better to be an employee. It’s tougher to be an average entrepreneur than an average employee I believe.

An important note: it depends on your goal and situation.

In medicine if you want to be a neurosurgeon or an oncologist you will have free access to the infrastructure allowing you to do your craft.

You could still do it in private practice but you won’t get the crazy difficult rare cases.

So I think it’s really on a case by case basis.

And as been said it all depends how much you value a certain kind of freedom.

I say a certain kind of freedom because if you have your own company you are still bound to your customers and your company.

So it’s freedom from a boss, which is already more than most people.

Also being an employee you get to learn from more senior employees or your boss. If you are working on your own you get a lesser access to these experimented people in your field.

So being an employee has many advantages, this is why people choose it. The narrative that employees are dumb for making this choice is condescending I believe.

For most people it’s the smart choice. Entrepreneurship is for a minority of people who can afford the risk and have the right character to go with it.

Lucio Buffalmano, Transitioned and leaderoffun have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoTransitionedleaderoffun
>The narrative that employees are dumb for making this choice is condescending I believe.
In Germany, and probably in most of Europe, the narrative is that entrepreneurs are dumb. Have no retirement plan. Are arrogant. And Evil. More so if successful.
I would go as far as saying that German culture discourages ambition. There's even an idiom for it!

The exact German Phrase is: "Wer Visionen hat, muss zum Doktor!" This is a slightly forced wordplay on 'Visionen' which can also be interpreted as meaning 'hallucinations'. So yes, there's a (hopefully weakening) element in German economic culture that discourages thinking big.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

One big effect of a culture that protects, sometimes beyond the reasonable, underperforming people is that good performers feel ignored.

We are not talking entrepreneur/employee now, but a situation where everyone is an employee and one is more competent than the rest, but not particularly rewarded. IME this is often the case in almost every company.

A friend of mine who is a complete badass at his job just had it. He doesn't care about his job anymore and is hoping someone fires him (rather than quitting; such re the labor laws in Germany). He's away from his computer, but so that his avatar shows 'green' on teams, he has a gadget that moves the mouse at random intervals. What a Homer Simpson moment. And the real pity is that he's super competent. He would make a change for any company who hires him. I don't think he wants to be hired... ever again.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman

Yes, it depends where you are in life. @lucio: I think your example is quite impressive and inspiring. I'm sure it's tough enough though. However, it seems to work well for you and give you what you're looking for in Life.

So LoF's friend might also be in a stage where the right move would be to become an entrepreneur. It's not only about entrepreneur or not. It depends if you have a family. If you have a project. What are your other opportunities, etc.

If you are an employee who's valued, respected, has a good salary and tons of free time, it makes little sense to become an entrepreneur, materially speaking.

Myself, I am considering more and more opening my own private paediatrics office for more freedom. However, I'm not there yet as I need to improve my skills still. Also, there are downsides to it of course.

There is also the timing part. Is it beneficial for me to become an entrepreneur? If yes: why? how? and when?

Quote from John Freeman on April 24, 2022, 7:44 pm

If you are an employee who's valued, respected, has a good salary and tons of free time, it makes little sense to become an entrepreneur, materially speaking.

Absolutely, 100%.

Also, not all employees are created equal.

Some professions and fields provide a huge amount of self-determination, limited supervision, as well as lots of power/leadership at work (actually there is a specific name for these types of organizations but I can't recall it right now).
I think your profession is one of those, John.
And the same can also be said for most teaching positions (from elementary school teachers to uni professors).

Yes, you show up at a certain time at work and you're supposed to stay until a certain time.
But then you have limited supervision, lots of leadership and self-determination to those you visit (or teach to), and your work and the fruit of your work is highly independent.

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John FreemanTransitionedleaderoffun
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

100% and the nasty part about free lancing in particular they never tell you is that 50% of your time is spent trying to gain or understand clients ie non. billable

Lucio Buffalmano and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman
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