I’ve never seen any job as anything other than temporary because I’ve never seen any job as a lifestyle. I’ve approached every job I’ve ever had as if I was an independent contractor. Exceed expectations, make yourself worth more to the company than they are to you, and you can raise your rates. Under Promise and Over Perform. That’s always been my motto.
I’ve worked many hourly jobs. I always considered them “blue-collar” jobs even when they were professional. A true professional doesn’t punch a clock, I said.
I proved it by graduating through many “blue-collar” jobs to a salaried position. Then another and through a series of promotions to another.
There I got a number of ‘superior” performance reviews. It was the first job I had ever had in my life that I believed I could retire from. “These people treat me so well that I can give up that idea of self-employment.” Unfortunately it was also the last. I was fired from that job after 5 years of great performance reviews.
Wanna know why?
Here’s the official line, “There’s a perception that you weren’t in the office enough.”
That, in spite of working in excess of 60 hours a week, on average, for over 3 years. I was also on call 24/7 for nearly a year straight, more than once. (On call responsibility was supposed to be rotated every other month.) I would often get paged and be woken at 2 or 3 am to “go to work.” I did it, every time. It was usually someone else’s mistake that I was up fixing at 4 am and the pager had woken up not just me, but my wife and some times my kids. If I was fortunate, it would only take a few minutes to fix. Some times it took hours.
But the 9 to 5′ers that were always leaving early to take their kids to the doctor or coming in late because their kids were sick were completely excused. In fact, I showed my manager, on paper, with numbers, that in spite of fighting an incredibly stressful court battle and becoming a single father during the previous year, I’d missed less work than at least two of the women on our small team.
“But they had maternity leave,” he said. “That was approved by HR.”
“Yes, Dave, and this is Lisa’s second, paid 12 week maternity leave in three years. She’s been gone entirely for 24 of the last 156 work weeks. And that doesn’t count vacation time. She’s selling out her family by refusing to be a mother and you’re rewarding that. I’m being told that I’m on probation and may lose my job because I’m in court fighting for my children and trying to take care of them. How is it different… I mean, other than that I’m doing what’s right and she’s not? Wait! I know another, I’ve been doing most of her job for a long time because she’s perpetually pregnant or on maternity leave.”
His answer for that was, “HR makes those rules. That’s not what we’re here to discuss.” I’ll bet HR doesn’t have an adequate explanation either.
Answer to the title question?
Neither. You’re never free or secure unless you’re working for yourself. I’m not saying you can’t do it working in somebody else’s company, but I’m pretty sure you can’t.