Very blurry picture I took with my phone of Gary Vee on stage

Whose life is it anyway?

​Who’s in control? Whose dream are you living?

Work hard, get a good job and you’ll be a success.  But now you feel you’ve bought into a lie. You work hard, but aren’t getting the rewards you deserve.

Entrepreneurship is a pretty big thing now, more and more people getting into it.  I know a few people who got into freelancing or became sole traders and entrepreneurs who went into it because they wanted more control over their lives, or at least working life.

But what if you do work for someone else?  Entrepreneurship is not your thing, for whatever reason.  And let’s face it, we can’t all be entrepreneurs – business owners need someone to join the payroll.

I spent two days at an event last week, for entrepreneurs.  Headline speaker was Gary Vaynerchuk, and there were several other speakers, most of whom were selling from the stage.  But there were some lessons in there that are just as valuable to employees as those running a business.  I’ve talked before about how autonomy at work is a key driver of motivation, and these seven lessons can help you take back control.

Seven lessons to help you take back control of your working life

The system lies to you. Education is to get you to conform.  It doesn’t teach you the right things

A few speakers talked about the education system, how kids are not taught how to be entrepreneurial.  They’re taught how to get a job.  Get good grades and work hard, and you’ll be successful.  A few discovered for themselves that’s not how it works.

I’m on board with the sentiment, though it did remind me a little of Hyde in That 70s Show, who was always complaining about ‘the man’.

You may be in a role where you’re working hard, but feel you’re not getting ​any reward for all that effort.  You’re working hard for someone else’s rewards.  It’s unfortunately happening a great deal at present.

The solution? Get your own education.  Learn on your own terms.  Several speakers said you’ve got to learn before you earn.  Essentially the same message as the establishment. But what resonates for me is that we should take responsibility for our own education, career, business, life.  You may not be taught critical thinking at school, but get out there and learn to do it, it’s an important life skill. And speaking of which….

Take responsibility

This is one of my favourites.  Take responsibility for your own actions.  One woman got the opportunity to ask Gary Vee a question. She admitted she hadn’t taken any action (brave of her!) but then said she was worried about what could go wrong, what should she do then?  Gary Vee’s response ‘Don’t worry about the future when you’re doing shit in the present.’ As someone who has difficulty with productivity at times, I can empathise with her question, but he’s absolutely right.  The responsibility to take action lies with ourselves.

If you’re in a horrible job, or have a bad manager, take responsibility for changing that.  But take a good hard look at your role here.  Is it really that bad, or are you causing at least part of the problem by your attitude to work?  How engaged are you at work?  Only 11% of employees in the UK are fully engaged.  If you increase your engagement, you can increase your success.  If you increase your happiness, you can increase your success. (Yes, that is the right way round.  You increase your happiness first, the success follows.) Let me know if you want to know how to do that, I can help you.

Fix your mindset.  Get rid of limiting beliefs

This is one reason we often get caught up in not taking action.  Actually, fix your mindset is probably the wrong way to say it, what we want is to have the right mindset; there’s a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset.  Growth is the one we want.

We lack the confidence to go out and succeed in the way we’d like to.  This is a part of the education you need to get for yourself.  If you don’t know how to do it, find out. A great place to start is by reading Mindset by Carol Dweck.  Or watch her TED talk if you don’t like reading. (It’s an excellent book though, I’d recommend giving it a try.)

The power of believing you can improve – Carol Dweck

Take action

Execute. Stop consuming, start producing. Knowledge isn’t power, knowledge plus action is power.  Be knowledgeable about your job, but ultimately, you have to produce the goods.

As a long suffering procrastinator, knowledge plus action makes so much sense.  Never forget there has to be action.  It’s only action that moves us forward, inaction leads to atrophy. (That might not be literally correct, I’m not a scientist.  But Prof Brian Cox said something similar I’m sure.)

If, like me, you’ve been afflicted with procrastination, take responsibility.  There are solutions that can help – I’ve been using them myself and am recovering.

Seize the day

Kind of like the last one, take action, sometimes you have to seize the day.  I’m so thankful I booked onto this event.  It was two days away from my business, travel expenses as well as the ticket expense, and two 4 am starts. But it was totally worth it.

Apart from the awesomeness of having seen Gary Vaynerchuk speak live on stage, I got so much more from this experience that I wasn’t expecting.  Sometimes, it’s worth just going with your gut and doing something, even if it doesn’t seem logical.

So if you just know you need to do something, just do it.

Get a coach or a mentor

What, you haven’t got one already? Just, get a coach. Or a mentor. Or both.

Look for the hidden lessons

Many thanks to Daniel Priestley, who was one of the speakers, for helping me to think more about the experience overall, and for the hidden lessons.  I learned some things about myself I wasn’t expecting to, and his comments made me learn some more.

I don’t want to come over all inspirational quote here, but those memes on Facebook that tell you people come into your life for a reason? And sometimes there’re there to bring you a lesson?  That’s how I feel about going to this event.   I know we can’t go through life analysing every little thing that happens, but it can be worthwhile to reflect on experiences from time to time.  The lessons may not be the ones you expected.

So if you’re having a tough time at work, would you like to

  • get your own education
  • take responsibility
  • change your mindset and get rid of limiting beliefs
  • take action
  • seize the day
  • find the hidden lessons?

Then join my 30 day challenge to change how you feel about work.  It starts next Monday.

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About the Author Lindsay Milner

Lindsay is the owner of Silvern Training. Before that she had a very varied working life, doing everything from admin, volunteering, sales, teaching, training, fundraising, management and chairing a board of charity trustees. Now wants to change the world of work by improving workplace cultures so that people can look forward to Monday mornings. Also likes to support individuals to speak up, be better listeners and to take action.

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