Take Control of Your Career.
Survive and Thrive in a Changed World.” by Cliff Hakim
Work and Life
“We Are All Self-Employed”
The working world seems like a very scary place. All the messages about jobs are, “There aren’t any.” The unemployment rates are soaring. More and more people are losing good jobs every day. Maybe a person should just give up and apply for a job serving fast food. It seems like the best way not to waste time getting to the bottom.
Cliff Hakim wrote We are all Self-Employed. How to Take Control of Your Career. Survive and Thrive in a Changed World. He is a career consultant that has made a difference by counseling people on how to change themselves not the world. A central theme of the book is taking responsibility (p. 13). Generally speaking the changes he teaches are to change your attitude and to lose your fear about facing the workplace. In other words become optimistic, courageous and ‘self-employed.’ These are very useful tools for the work world and our lives that have helped a lot of people.
Summary of the book
Hakim starts the book by introducing himself like he might do when you first went to him for career counseling. He also shares an example of how he used the prepatory questions to decide it was time for him to work on a second edition of this book.
The book is well organized. A reader can start making a change in a step-by-step process while reading the book. The author uses the word “worklife” rather than “career” because it more accurately reflects the ideas he is sharing.
The first thing to do is to think about the thirteen questions at the beginning of the book to help you decide if you are ready to “assess, measure, and affirm your readiness” to make a change (p. 209). Here are three examples.
“Do you want to overcome your work fears?”
“Do you want to take control of your work life?” (p. 209)
“Do you want to fully express your passion?” (p. 209)
“I will face the dragon” is the phrase he uses to talk about facing fears about work. For example, now we can face the fact that work doesn’t mean traveling every day to an office or job and staying for a certain amount of hours. A lot people are working from home. Others are working a flexible schedule (p. 271). To face work fears first you have to name the fears you have around work. Then you can give yourself to work with passion or find a job that you are passionate about (pp. 950-1051).
“I will integrate dependence and interdependence” is the need to be able to work on your own or in cooperation with the others. The goal is to be productive and take responsibility for your work (p. 284).
The next step is to consider your job as joining the others at work rather than “working for” someone else (p.302). He suggests taking an active role at work, join in when appropriate and do not think that past successes guarantee future success (p.1082).
The fifth step is to commit to continually learning new things. His point is that we have two jobs all the time 1) be your own leader and 2) be continually learning (p. 339). By paying attention to our work, really seeing what we are doing, we can become a (p.2324).
The sixth lesson is to do all your work in a meaningful way. Other people may take your work for granted but you can do your best so you will feel satisfied (p. 384). When people do appreciate your work, learn to accept their praise (p.2966).
The last portion of the book goes into more detail about handling an interview, dealing with customers and how to apply the self-employment concept. He gives examples of people who have used personality tests to figure out what they wanted.
Practical learning from the book
The most important thing I learned from the book is that I do have control over my future when it comes to work. Just by reading the book I became more optimistic. When I do more exercises in the book I will probably gain more confidence. I’ll be able to trust my own feelings and ideas more. That will be great because most of the time I feel confused about what my future holds.
I have answered some of the questions in some of the exercises. To use the book as a workbook I think will help me learn about what I really want. That’s going to take time because I need to think about my answers to a lot of the questions.
I agree with him on his thinking of being self-employed. Even when working for a salary or wage. Because it’s good to pay more attention to what I’m doing rather than worrying about what others might think or want me to do. When I pay attention to what I do and try my best to do it well then it’s better for me and better for my work.
I learned that there isn’t only one way to be successful. You don’t have to climb a career ladder; you can also have a career lattice. His examples of the career lattice are good for understanding how different job skills overlap, some are on the same level or others are connected in new directions (p. 3572).
For example, my work now is as a student. I bring a lot of skills to the job. Some aren’t needed all the time but they are good to have. I’ve jotted down a lattice design for a job as a student. I added things like math skills, computers, understanding books and following instructions. I have a lot more skills than I realized. I understand better, too, what he meant by paying attention to your work.
Critical analysis of the book
This is a well organized book with practical applications. Hakim helps you work through all his suggestions in detailed steps. I have even done some of the exercises already.
The way he has lists of questions to answer to help understand myself better are very helpful. I also like the step-by-step approach to learning how to “face your fear” (p. 950) and the other main suggestions he makes.
The author writes about a lot of real life examples. Those are probably more helpful to adults who have been in the job market for a long time. I don’t think a person interested in finding a career or learning about getting a job needs so many examples.
He used a lot of popular ‘self-help’ clichés like taking responsibility and using self-discipline. Usually I would find this annoying but he has so much practical information in the book the clichés were more realistic than just filling up the pages to sell a book.
The tables were great. He has added a lot of tables to help make comparisons between ideas he is trying to get across. For example, the table explaining what he means by “employed” versus “self-employed” is really a good way to clearly understand his idea (p. 3732).
I liked the way a reader can chose to read all the details in the examples and all the psychological explanations or a person can chose to read the most personally helpful parts.
I didn’t recognize any bias in the writing. The author seems like an honest person who genuinely wants to help people. His book is full of common sense yet his perspective is unique. He’s optimistic and understanding.
This is a very good book for people of all ages. The ideas in the book are presented in a variety of way to suit the needs of different readers. Parts of the book, especially the last chapters are written with a lot of detail and examples. The first part of the book takes the reader through step-by-step to understand what being self-employed means to the author.
A person can learn a lot by flipping through the book and randomly answering lists of questions or studying the tables. It’s not necessary to read the book in a certain order to learn new information about yourself and about Hakim’s idea of being self-employed.
The author, Cliff Hakim, is a career counselor and has examples from his clients and his own personal experience. His goals of teaching the reader to be optimistic and self-reliant are reached for all serious readers.
I recommend the book to people who are looking for a job or people who are not happy with their job.
Hakim, C. ( 2003.) We are all Self-Employed. San Francisco. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. Kindle Book.