If I Take All the Risks, I Want All the Rewards

by | Jun 28, 2010 | 2 comments

I received this message from a guy who is going through the IEM program at UAB

“Since I began this program, I have been really thinking about my current employment situation and many concerns have been raised. If I view my position as a business and not just as a job, my business is at great risk.

I have a long term contract with one client that is renewed each year. The client is a large manufacturer that is doing well but they are in a struggling industry.  The dynamics of the company are changing to adjust to the economy and I have been trying to see where I fit in. I have recently realized that I’m not a part of those dynamics. I am a supplier of a service that can easily be eliminated or replaced. My position requires a certain level of business acumen but does not necessarily require a unique skill-set. I work a full time schedule and I am bound by the same rules as a full time employee, but I do not share the benefits of the employees.  My position does not allow the time or flexibility to work with any other clients and the plant is located far away from other businesses.  I can only reasonably work with this one client on a given day.

I have become aware that I am the only one that is at risk in this equation and the risk is great.  I am a company of one, with one client and no real agent to look out for my best interests.  I feel that if I’m taking all of the risk, I should receive all of the reward, but here it doesn’t work that way. I enjoy working in this field and I’m not on the verge of quitting my job today, but I feel that change is needed. ”

Sound Familiar? There are probably many people who could read that write-up and say “me too.” My initial response to this message is to congratulate him on being able to honestly assess his situation.  A lot of people are blinded by the “Company of One” thinking and they fool themselves into thinking all is OK. The truth may hurt – but knowing it helps you to look at what you really need to do. So I am suggesting that he has taken a great big step already…..


What is missing to me is some of the bigger questions….. What do you want? Really? Where do you REALLY want to be? Certainly you could improve on your situation and do many things to get more control – but the reality is that it will take work and time —- and if you are not going after what you really want – it is wasted time!!

So here are two things you can do:

First: Figure out where you want to be.

Those questions on CORE/Calling/Career can really get you there. Some people struggle with this – but it is worth it. You do not have to decide what you want to do everyday for the next ten years – but what is it that would  create a passion and a drive to excite you today – and get you through the days that are just yuck! I suggest you already know – but most people have buried it.

Second: Start to connect with people doing what you love – living your dream.
A friend of my tells me you become who you hang with – so look at your crowd. Where do you need to branch out? With who? One way to do this is the reverse interview

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Dale Callahan

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  1. kyle

    Dale, can you explain more on the topic of people burying their passions?
    “….. create a passion and a drive to excite you today ….. but most people have buried it…..”

  2. Dale


    simply put – we settle. All too often we wonder through life taking what looks like the safe path. You know – that advice we have heard so often — “go to school, get good grades, get a good job with a good company, etc ”

    The problem is this formula never considers what we love to do! Instead, we try to fit what we are passionate about into a job description. Job descriptions are finite – passions are infinite. So while this approach of fitting in might actually work for a few – way too many have decided to bury their passions.

    But it gets worse. Many of us take a job just because it is there when we are looking. Then we become defined by it. Case in point – when I graduated engineering school, I got a job in telecommunications based on a chance meeting at my mailbox. I really never thought about it. It was a “good company.” Years later, without much thought or planning by me, I was defined as a telecommunications expert. And years after that – I still am. But you know what? I could really care less about telecommunications! Sure it is interesting technology – but you will never catch me reading about it in my spare time. You will never catch me exploring some telecommunications topic on a Google search just for enjoyment. In other words – it is not a passion. It never really hit me until one day when I found myself CEO of a wireless telecom company. I woke up and thought I had lost my mind. Why did I agree to do that job? I just floated along into without much thought!

    So what did I do all those years as a telecom expert? I buried my passion. I had a job which was respected by others. I made good money and had a neat sounding titles. Who cares? Certainly not me.

    I see this daily now when I speak and teach. You might think it is just you – but I see that same blank stare of an unfulfilled work life from software developers to CEOs. Instead of driving our careers and our source of income – we just float along the path like a bottle in the sea waiting to find out who will discover us next on some foreign shore.

    The only alternative! Take back the reigns.

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