I recall walking past my boss’s office with trepidation. I was an associate at a law firm and the law partner in charge of my work had control of both my future at the firm and my daily production. That was over twenty years ago. But I can still vividly recall that feeling. When I first started The Learning Consultants, I became nearly evangelical in urging my friends to become entrepreneurial. The main reason was simple: bosses can ruin one’s career (and life!). I’ve since softened my view as I realize plenty of people would prefer the stress of a boss than the stress of being one’s own boss, that law partners are among the worst of all bosses, and that “autonomy” can come within an organization.
Now, in running Career Counseling Connecticut, I have a deeper sense regarding autonomy. Some professions – such as teaching – have day to day autonomy. Certainly, there are many bureaucratic checklists and administrative to-dos, that limit full independence but many teachers can choose how to present the day’s lesson. Other professions – such as wealth manager – have autonomy in the sense that if they produce their “numbers” then it doesn’t really matter if they are in an organization or on their own. I also realize that being one’s own boss of a retail store limits autonomy if the store owner must be present.
Nonetheless, particularly of late, I realize that having control over one’s day to day life is a vital factor for career happiness for most everyone.