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Be Your Own Boss (Literally)

Since time immemorial, “be your own boss” has been the promise of hypemen, gurus and MLM types. And for good reason; it’s a compelling notion. Who doesn’t have a memory of an awful boss? And who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to fire that boss?

It’s a great though. However, the goal of these salespeople is usually implied in their job description. To make some sort of sale.

As a result, the people who hear it often come away with a faulty perspective: “Being your own boss means doing whatever you want.”

Unfortunately, for most people who adopt this philosophy, “whatever I want” usually equates to “doing nothing.”

The good news? There’s a much more useful side to the idea of being your own boss:

Actually being your own boss.

A quick note: for the rest of this article, I’m going to be using the word “leader” in place of the word “boss.” I see a major difference between the two. When I was 17, I was a manager at a sandwich shop. Was I the boss? Yes. Was I a leader? Absolutely not. And the idea I want to express to you in this article is not that you should be your own boss, but to be your own leader.

Be your own leader

Jordan Peterson said it best in rule 2 of his book “12 Rules For Life”: Treat yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping.

This doesn’t mean do what you want, nor does it mean do what makes you happy. It means do what is actually good for you.

As a leader, it’s your job to do the same for your subordinates. Build them up, challenge them, call them to greater heights. Expect great things from them.

But far too many people neglect to do the same for themselves, even those in leadership positions.

You need to be your own leader too.

Regardless of your role

This perspective is not just for people in management, supervisory or leadership roles. This is for everyone, from the CEO down to the front line employee. (Hint: leaders displayed leader-level character before they were promoted. They did NOT acquire leader-level character afterwards.)

If you’re a business owner, it’s doubly important. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that you’re accountable to nobody when you’re at the top of (or the only member of) the food chain. But you’re still accountable to your future self.

And if you’re a freelancer or one-person business, it’s absolutely essential. So many freelancers view themselves as the business. You must approach your work as a servant of the business rather than the business itself. This is the only way to grow it into something larger than yourself. If you view the business as a subset of yourself and not the other way around, it will never surpass you.

3 practical steps to self-leadership

  1. Create a decision making process that follows a set of guidelines. Listen to your gut instinct of course, but never let it be the only voice guiding your decision making. Even if you’re at the very bottom of the totem pole, you’re going to have opportunities to make decisions. Make the right decisions consistently and take your job seriously, and it WILL be noticed.
  2. Take time on a consistent basis (every day, every week) to intentionally look at your responsibilities from an outside perspective. Whether you’re a low-ranking employee, self-employed, or a business owner, consider your role in your mission and how it affects the world around you. While viewing the game board from this perspective, make strategic decisions.
  3. Take time every single day to reflect on your performance that day. Approach it as if you’re a leader reviewing the performance of a team member. What did you do well? What needed work? What’s the best way for you to improve, and what are you going to do tomorrow to make it happen?

Ultimately, you must realize that—whatever your role—you are a leader. Even if only of yourself, you are a leader. And that role must be taken seriously. If you’re lazy in someone else’s business as an employee, your boss might yell at you. But if you’re lazy in YOUR business, the business will die. And your entire life is your business.

Now get out there and make something awesome!

I'm John Kakuk.

I’m a brand designer, web developer and marketer working with architects, engineers and construction companies. My purpose is to help others achieve the best versions of their businesses and themselves.

Here's how I can help you: