Given that I made the decision to fly solo a decade or so ago, it’s amazing how long it took me to stumble on to what I believe is the fundamental truth of flying solo:
It’s not what we do, it’s who we are.
I am going to spend August being grateful for the fact that I have been able to align my work and my self.
I found further evidence of soloists structuring their working lives around who they are when I arrived at a venue to speak about public relations for small business to a group of soloists. As I drove into the carpark I was overwhelmed by the number of cars that were signwritten with logos, slogans, 1300 numbers and websites.
When I speak to corporate groups, the carpark is a sea of anonymous Australian-made sedans in conservative colours.
It struck me that the cars in both carparks are driven by people going about the business of their work, yet how the drivers were employed by those businesses was critically – and observably – different.
Soloists proudly fly the flag for their businesses. Why wouldn’t we? We are proud of what we have to offer the world and don’t separate ourselves from the identity of our businesses. Our businesses are who we are.
The corporate set drive cars provided to them by their employers, for whom they do what they do. When opportunity knocks, the sedan drivers will move to the employ of another business and take the wheel of another remarkably similar corporate vehicle and continue to do what they do. Corporate employment is very rarely about who workers are as individuals, however ambitious they may be.
Corporate employment is what the non-soloists do.
In my view, this never used to be the case and, in my defence, this is why it took me so long to see this fundamental truth for what it is.
I am old enough to remember working life in the eighties when the company car became the ultimate status symbol. They were coveted. And they were branded. Sure, you see the odd purple Cadbury car still but it’s the exception and whatever that US cosmetic company was thinking with its pink fleet who knows, but whatever it was, it is no longer how they reward their achievers.
Something has changed in corporate life and people no longer choose to be so readily ‘branded’ especially after they clock off and go home to remove themselves from the work that is no more to them than ‘what they do’.
Soloists define ourselves if not by our work then by how we have chosen to do our work. There is an obvious pride in our choices, our actual ownership of our business and our figurative ownership of our lifestyle.
You can see it in everything we do. We stamp our brand on everything we do because we are proud of it. It’s who we are and it’s not just work, it’s personal.
It is obvious by the smiles on our faces and the cars in our driveways and August for me will be about celebrating this sense of getting it right.
I am sure the benefits of my enlightenment to the people around me will be many.
“ We are proud of what we have to offer the world and don’t separate ourselves from the identity of our businesses. ”