Steven R. Covey on Job Security

Steven R. CoveyI’ll never forget sitting on the grass at a university campus (the Quad – the two uni’s that I’ve been to have them) reading Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. After all, I was going to be highly effective, very successful and fabulously wealthy 🙂 Ah, nothing like being a freshman!

Anyway, there were a few sentences that hit me hard that day on the Quad, and I’ve remembered them all this time (more than 10 years ago):

Your economic security does not lie in your job; it lies in your own power to produce – to think, to learn, to create, to adapt. That’s true financial independence. It’s not having wealth; it’s having the power to produce wealth. It’s intrinsic.

Steven R. Covey, first 7 Habits book, Page 304 (1st paragraph)

Back then I knew that I needed to finish my degree and be aggressive in my career. And I was right… kind of. I did need to do those things, but they wouldn’t bring me economic security. Here are the “right things” that I did that I thought would provide me economic security forever:

  • I got a degree in CIS – it was the hottest business degree at the time (and I didn’t have the brain to be an accountant!)
  • I got my MBA – the only time I almost got a 4.0 (my mistake was that I “made my path public” and told a professor that my goal was to get a 4.0 – he is the one that didn’t give me an A!!)
  • I had great job titles – from programmer to IT Manager to CIO to VP to General Manager (I should have been president but the board thought I was too young – they wanted me to have more “gray hair”)
  • I had quantifiable results – if you look at my resume you’ll see the “increased revenue by 500%” type stuff.

I thought I had it all! And then when I got laid off I found out that those things were just … well, things. They were important, don’t get me wrong, but I put my job security in those things. I don’t regret it at all, and am proud of my accomplishments 🙂 But after this last 10 months, from when I got laid off, I have a new list of things that I think are uber-critical. These are things that go along with Covey’s “think, learn, create, adapt”:

  • Think about the employment cycle – you will change jobs frequently! I’ve seen some resumes where they change each year or 18 months, and “the stats” say you’ll change every 3 – 5 years. Don’t let this concept be a pink elephant that no one talks about! Accept it, and begin to figure out what you will do during the job search times!
  • Learn the proper principles of career management, job search, networking, etc. You should be an expert in whatever you do… you should also be an expert in navigating your career!
  • Create a personal brand, and a strong… a REAL network! You can do what I did and spend 110% on your job and neglect your career. But all that meant for me was months of unemployment trying to figure out where I went wrong. If I would have spent time on a personal brand and a network I guarantee my time of unemployment would have been significantly lower. Of course, then I wouldn’t have created JibberJobber, so its good that I couldn’t get a job, right? 😉
  • Adapt to the new career – that is, multiple jobs, frequent layoffs (downsizing, rightsizing, etc.). I used to think that anyone that couldn’t get a job quickly was a loser! They should have gotten a better degree, or they should work harder in the job search etc. I had to do a major paradigm shift when months passed and I couldn’t even get an interview! I came to realize that I wasn’t a loser but that I just hadn’t adapted to reality! I was still on the “have a great job for life and get a pension” plan, and had not even began to accept today’s reality and adapt to it.

Food for thought. There is much more, but these are some basics 🙂 Where do you stand on this?

4 thoughts on “Steven R. Covey on Job Security”

  1. Jason, great concepts. I agree 100%. I didn’t read Steven’s book (probably one of the only people on the planet that hasn’t) but he is right. I think that I have know that, intuitively, for longer than I can remember.

    My career was planned out, while at USNA, until I was to retire at 42. But a funny thing happened on my way to graduation and the government had other ideas for me. So I learned early that the best laid plans of mice and men….

    Also, building my IT business (as I talk about in my article for the blog carnival) took many a turn that was unexpected. I guess through it all, I’ve been able to adapt, to learn, to create value for others using my skills and knowledge. No one can take that away from you.

    Paychecks can be taken away, but when you leave company you take everything that you knew before you got there AND everything that you learned while you were there. Put it to good use. If you do, you’ll be successful. And don’t forget about the fact that when you leave a job, if should be the company that is losing the most. That has always made me feel good.

  2. Thanks Carl and Liz – you know, its responses from experts like you guys that makes me keep blogging. I love all comments (well, not spam comments :() but to hear people like you guys who know lots more than I do validate my daily ramblings is quite a compliment.

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