Think back for a minute to the last time you had a restless night sleep. What was racing through your brain? Typically what keeps people up, tossing and turning, is worry about control—the control they have of their future. If you’re lying awake at night, it’s likely because you feel insecure about something. You’re probably worried about taking care of your family, paying bills, advancing at your job, getting your kids through college, and on top of it all—saving for retirement!
These are all big nuts to crack and can all be huge points of anxiety. The pharmaceutical industry has made billions off of anxiety meds trying to help people calm down. The biggest stress that lies at the root of our security—or insecurity? Ownership! Ownership of your career, ownership of your job, ownership over the amount of money you make, and ownership over your future. Ownership over your career means more time and more money for the things that you want to do for yourself and your family. Have control and ownership at work—and your days filled with worry will be numbered.
I know a lot about worry. I work in financial planning, an industry at the mercy of the financial markets. My first few years on the job I saw the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index drop 45 percent in two years. In those days I learned that worries about money and security can lead to more worries. Luckily, early on I read Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and noticed how worry perpetuates itself. That’s because when we worry we undermine our inner security and feel more insecure; and, when we’re insecure, we’re not likely to take ownership of our own lives and careers. So we end up in a cycle of worry and indecision that undercuts our ability to get the most out of life. The cure for indecision is clarity, which I found with help from some great mentors. This book is full of examples of people who overcame indecision and worry, took ownership of their careers, and found more security. They can be great mentors for you.
The people in this book are each very different, but what they all have in common is that they didn’t sit back and have promotions fall in their laps. They’re normal people like you and me. They drive themselves to work; they pick up diapers or fast food on the way home; they watch television at night just like you and me. None of these people had anything handed to them, and they’re not going to be featured on the front of Fortune Magazine. They didn’t go to Ivy League schools. These are everyday people we can relate to who all had to start from scratch in the corporate world.
What’s remarkable about these people is that they found the secret to security and benefitted financially—something that we can all learn from and stand to do better. This is a group of people who sleep well at night. The key is they wrangled control away from employers and placed it their own hands; they brought the control back to their side of the table. And the good news is that their strategy of bringing control back to their side of the table—and out of their employers’ hands—is a strategy that can be copied.