Editor's Note: Guest author Barbara Sehr is a critically acclaimed writer, journalist and comedienne. In this post, she argues the need of freelancers to maintain a partnership mindset rather than an employee "clock in, clock out" philosophy. View Barbara's profile and portfolio.
The great American poet, Robert Frost, once said "the world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them." Things have changed a lot since the mid-20th century when Frost pointed us to the Road Not Taken. Just a decade ago, when sock puppets ruled the airwaves, many little startups that could engaged their employees with the draw of stock options. Stock options would make even the lowest-level employee think about what sweat, blood, and tears they could give to bring the company store closer to the public option trough.
Today, many of us have elegant calligraphies gathering dust in a file drawer as memories of a time when we owned a little bit of a now-extinct company. Options would gives us, well, options. We had a reason to work hard and do everything in our power to make sure that our workplace was successful. We were partners in this enterprise, and we would get rich along with the executives — or even in spite of the executives. We knew that one day we would dance on streets paved with gold.
Many of us discovered that golden streets have gone the way of unicorns and eight-track players. Today, those that have jobs often find themselves stretched like the national deficit. Work is no longer just the curse of the leisure class, but the blight of the working class. Workers of the world now look with silent admiration at a recently famous Jet Blue flight attendant who set the words to "Take This Job and Shove It!" into our internal iPod.
Partnership demands a declaration of dependence. There's more to work than productivity numbers and profit. There's pride in contributing our minds, our resources and our sacred honor, to a job well done. Partners are admired for our minds and our crafts— not the pot luck tuna wiggle we brought to the company picnic. Partners are integrated into the decision process. When corporate policies are framed, partners are a part of the picture. In short, most of us want to be partners in success (or even failure) rather than just another dumb terminal in a network of vapid ether.